Researchers study prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 UK variant at University of Texas

The UK severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant, also known as the B.1.1.7 variant, has been spreading since October 2020. Since then, it has reached many countries worldwide.

The UK variant is confirmed to be transmissible than earlier strains, and recent studies revealed that it may even cause more severe illness.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Santa Fe Institute in the US used quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) data from a surveillance testing program on a large university campus to estimate how fast the new variant spreads. The team used the data to provide local situational information on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, published on the medRxiv* server, showed that the estimated proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections caused by the B.1.1.7 variant at the University of Texas increased community infections by 17.9 percent in February 12. By March 5, the UK variant is thus expected to comprise a majority of the cases.

The B.1.1.7 variant

Though the B.1.1.7 variant has started spreading in October 2020, it was not until December 2020 that concern was raised among public health officials about a surge of cases in southeastern England.

The variant accounted for about 5 to 10 percent of all coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the UK. It was initially designated as Variant Under Investigation (VUI)-202012/01 but was later named Variant of Concern (VOC-202012/01) or B.1.1.7.

Since then, the new variant has been reported in many countries globally, including the US. Alongside this variant, the South African variant, called B.1.351, has also emerged.

The B.1.1.7 variant has a mutation on the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the virus’s spike protein at position 501, where the amino acid asparagine (N) has been replaced with tyrosine (Y). This mutation is called N501Y.

The study

To arrive at the study findings, the team estimated the prevalence of the UK variant based on daily positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests and the number of S gene target failures (SGTF) out of 17,003 student tests from January 16 to February 12, 2021.

The team found that the relative frequency of B.1.1.7 is growing at a daily rate of 0.077, which links to an early doubling time of 9 days. The estimates were parallel with the growth rates estimated in the UK, Florida, and California.

In the University of Texas community, the estimated proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections caused by the U.K. variant increased from 2.7 percent on January 16 to 17.9 percent by February 12.

Meanwhile, the team projected that the B.1.1.7 variant would cause most university cases by March 5. Also, assuming that the B.1.1.7 variant is 1.56 times as transmissible as the wildtype variant, the team projects that its emergence will lead to a 77 percent increase in infections during the spring semester.

The team added that while the estimates were derived from limited surveillance data, they are consistent with the trends seen in the UK and the US. The researchers urged for expanded molecular surveillance capacity and continuous COVID-19 mitigation efforts, such as social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and masks wearing in public places.

To date, there have been over 117.53 million cases worldwide, with over 2.6 million COVID-19-related deaths. The US remains to have the highest number of cases, reaching 29 million with over 527,000 deaths.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Source:
Journal reference:
Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

Citations

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Laguipo, Angela. (2021, March 10). Researchers study prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 UK variant at University of Texas. News-Medical. Retrieved on December 04, 2021 from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210310/Researchers-study-prevalence-of-UK-SARS-CoV-2-variant-at-University-of-Texas.aspx.

  • MLA

    Laguipo, Angela. "Researchers study prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 UK variant at University of Texas". News-Medical. 04 December 2021. <https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210310/Researchers-study-prevalence-of-UK-SARS-CoV-2-variant-at-University-of-Texas.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Laguipo, Angela. "Researchers study prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 UK variant at University of Texas". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210310/Researchers-study-prevalence-of-UK-SARS-CoV-2-variant-at-University-of-Texas.aspx. (accessed December 04, 2021).

  • Harvard

    Laguipo, Angela. 2021. Researchers study prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 UK variant at University of Texas. News-Medical, viewed 04 December 2021, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210310/Researchers-study-prevalence-of-UK-SARS-CoV-2-variant-at-University-of-Texas.aspx.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
You might also like... ×
Markers of SARS-CoV-2 shedding in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals