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Changes in symptomatology, re-infection and transmissibility associated with SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7: an ecological study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Lancet Public Health
Accepted/In press10 Mar 2021

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Abstract

The new SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 was identified in December 2020 in the South-East of England, and rapidly increased in frequency and geographic spread. While there is some evidence for increased transmissibility of this variant, it is not known if the new variant presents with variation in symptoms or disease course, or if previously infected individuals may become reinfected with the new variant. Using longitudinal symptom and test reports of 36,920 users of the Covid Symptom Study app testing positive for COVID-19 between 28 September and 27 December 2020, we examined the association between the regional proportion of B.1.1.7 and reported symptoms, disease course, rates of reinfection, and transmissibility. We found no evidence for changes in reported symptoms, disease severity and disease duration associated with B.1.1.7. We found a likely reinfection rate of around 0.7% (95% CI 0.6-0.8), but no evidence that this was higher compared to older strains. We found an increase in R(t) by a factor of 1.35 (95% CI 1.02-1.69). Despite this, we found that regional and national lockdowns have reduced R(t) below 1 in regions with very high proportions of B.1.1.7.

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