THE coronavirus strain first identified in Britain is now responsible for 80% of infections across Spain and is more contagious, according to health experts.
The variant was said to be at the root of the fourth wave of Covid-19 and dominant across the country but to date has not overwhelmed the Spanish health system despite fears it was more lethal – as experienced in other European countries.
Scientists say more research is needed into the variant, B.1.1.7, first identified in Kent, to see whether it causes more serious symptoms of the disease or “genuinely” increases mortality.
“It’s a fact that it has quickly become the dominant strain in Spain,” explains Juan Carlos Galán, the head of virology at Madrid’s Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal.
“What we still need to research more is whether it causes more serious symptoms or higher mortality rates. There is evidence that suggests that it does, in particular in the 40 to 50 age group, but we still need the evidence to back this up.”
And scientists at Barcelona health laboratory ISGlobal said the worst predictions about the effects “have no come to pass” and research was needed to investigate why the variant was so devastating in other countries but had not affected Spain in the same way.