The B.1.526 strain of coronavirus, also known as Iota, first discovered in New York in November 2020, transmits 15-25% faster than other strains, a reprint published on the medRxiv server said.
The research was conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
The findings reveal that the virus variant increases mortality by 46%, 82%, and 62% in persons aged 45-64, 65-74, and over 75 years, respectively.
The researchers emphasized that strains such as Iota can spread among the population several weeks before detection. In addition, they have ability to escape the immune response, for example, they can be resistant to therapeutic antibodies.
The researchers warn that these characteristics of the strain could negate previous medical advances and increase the death rate. According to scientists, timely preparation and careful monitoring of coronavirus variants, their epidemiological characteristics, and disease severity are critical in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.