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Study Links Variant to Increased Risk of Death

A new study has found that the B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 is more deadly than previously circulating variants, Reuters reports.

A team of researchers in the UK — where the variant was first identified — compared outcomes among patients infected with the B.1.1.7 variant to outcomes among patients infected with other viral variants. A previous analysis has suggested that the B.1.1.7 variant is also more transmissible, about 56 percent more, than previous viral variants.

As they report in the BMJ on Wednesday, the University of Exeter's Robert Challen and his colleagues examined a cohort of 54,906 matched pairs of participants to find between a 32 percent and 104 percent increased risk of death within the group infected with the B.1.1.7 variant. The absolute risk of death, meanwhile, increased from 2.5 deaths to 4.1 deaths per 1,000 cases.

"Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly, this makes B.1.1.7 a threat that should be taken seriously," Challen tells Reuters.

The Scan

Omicron's Emergence

The World Health Organization has called Omicron a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," the Los Angeles Times writes.

Not as Much

Merck's pill to treat COVID-19 reduces the risk of hospitalization and death among COVID-19 patients by less than previously reported, the New York Times says.

Bats That Hang Together

Discover magazine writes that researchers have found a social microbiome among vampire bats.

PLOS Papers on CEWAS, Simian Varicella Virus Transcriptome, Dermatomyositis Markers

In PLOS this week: multi-omic approach to home in on genetic risk variants, transcriptomic analysis of the simian varicella virus, and more.