A new statistical analysis confirms that COVID-19 became more fatal in the UK in late 2020, and that several factors, not simply the virus’s alpha version, were to blame. On November 24, 2021, Patrick Pietzonka and colleagues from Cambridge University publish their findings in PLOS ONE.
In order to combat this disease, researchers should look into how COVID-19 lethality has altered over time in different regions. The UK COVID-19 outbreak may have gotten more fatal in late 2020, but more rigorous assessments are needed.
Pietzonka and colleagues used a statistical technique known as Bayesian inference to see if COVID-19 become more harmful in late 2020. They were able to make statistically better conclusions regarding lethality from weekly data on the number of cases and deaths caused by COVID-19 in the United Kingdom as a result of this. They compared predictions from multiple mathematical simulations of COVID-19 spread and mortality, some of which included increased lethality, using Bayesian inference.
This analysis reveals that COVID-19 became more fatal in late autumn of 2020 in the United Kingdom, implying that the likelihood of an infected person dying from the disease rose.
Previously, it was thought that the alpha version (B.1.1.7) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which was more infectious than previously prevalent variants in the UK, was to blame for the increased fatality. The new research reveals, however, that lethality increased to a higher extent than the alpha version could account for, and that the increase in lethality began before the alpha form was widely used.
These findings imply that, while the alpha variation played a role in enhanced lethality in late 2020, there were other factors at play as well. More research is needed to pinpoint those characteristics, but the authors speculate that they could include increasing demand on health-care resources and seasonality—a seasonal cycle in the intensity of a virus similar to that seen in other respiratory infections such as the common cold and flu.
Pietzonka, P., et al. (2021) Bayesian inference across multiple models suggests a strong increase in lethality of COVID-19 in late 2020 in the UK. PLoS ONE.