“The British variant is more pathogenic”: Marc Van Ranst puts forward an explanation for the current increase in hospitalizations


According to virologist Marc Van Ranst, there is little reason to doubt that the British variant is more pathogenic than the original strain of the virus. “There are a number of studies that point in this direction”, he says. Since the British variant is becoming dominant in Belgium, this could be, at least in part, the explanation behind the rapid increase in the number of intensive care patients (which currently reaches 503 occupied beds) .

For the first time since December 28, there are again more than 500 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units in Belgium. The number of hospitalizations and the number of infections also show an increasing trend after a long plateau phase. “We are at a potential tipping point”, said Steven Van Gucht during the Crisis Center press conference on Tuesday.

“The last sixteen weeks have seen little movement on the surface, but below that the British variant has increased. The British variant is emerging and as it is more transmissible the numbers will increase.”said Van Ranst, who also points out that people infected with the British variant are more likely to end up in intensive care. “There are a number of studies which indicate that the British variant is more pathogenic. So there is little reason to doubt that it makes people sicker than the original strain.”

The phenomenon that a new variant of the same virus is both more contagious and more pathogenic is, according to the virologist, rather “unusual “.

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