A study observes a higher viral load in PCRs of patients infected with the British variant of SARS-CoV-2

..Gema Maldonado.
A study by the University of Birmingham funded by the UK Department of Health states that around 35% of samples infected with the new British variant of SARS-CoV-2 indicate higher viral loads than in others infected by another virus lineage. The study, which still needs to be reviewed by peers, points out the possible relevance of a higher probability of viral load and, therefore, the ability to infect more new hosts, for the epidemiological follow-up of Covid-19.

The study points to the possible relevance of a higher probability of viral load in the British variant, which suggests a greater capacity to infect more new hosts

Using a PCR kit from a particular commercial house with a three-day virus detection scheme, the S gene, the N gene and the ORF gene, the researchers have observed that in approximately 35% of the samples in which the S gene, which groups the largest number of mutations in the so-called British variant, was not detected, but the N and the ORF were detected, there were significantly higher viral loads than those found in 10% of the samples in which the S gene yes it was detected.

From this observation, “They deduce that this British variant of the virus has a high viral load”, points to iSanidad Dr. Julio García, spokesman for the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases Microbiology (Seimc). “A higher viral load leads to higher infectivity: there is more of the virus and it is more likely that these viruses reach a susceptible host”, Explain.

Dr. García: “A higher viral load entails a higher infectivity: there is more of the virus and it is more likely that these viruses reach a susceptible host”

However, the Seimc spokesperson is cautious. First, because it is the result of the observation in a specific commercial brand of PCR tests. “We use up to eight different brands. Each one has a detection scheme of two or three genes of the virus to have complete security in the diagnosis “, aim. Second, because it is a preprint that must be reviewed. Dr. García points out that it is necessary to know that both the population that has the mutation corresponding to the British lineage and the control population have “Similar evolution times” of infection, among other aspects, “To draw conclusions”.

A greater capacity for infection leads to a greater number of infections, as long as the appropriate hygiene and safety measures are not followed. So far this variant has not shown a worsening of the disease, but if the infection reaches more people, there will also be a higher proportion of people requiring hospital care or even admission. Dr. Garcia, remember that “The prevention measures against this variant are exactly the same as against the other variants. The virus spreads when it meets irresponsible people who do not follow the measures, no matter what line it is “.

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