Several genetic variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have risen to prominence during the course of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, one of which is the UK variant – termed B.1.1.7 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This variant is associated with increased transmissibility compared to the wild-type virus due to several specific mutations in the spike protein that enhance affinity towards the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor of host cells. It has spread rapidly around the world since its discovery in December 2020.
A recent study by researchers at Tel Aviv University describes the UK variant’s rise to dominance in Israel. It also assesses the efficacy of the testing and vaccination programs employed by the government. The team has released their findings as a preprint on the medRxiv* preprint server.
How was the study performed?
The Israeli government enacted a mass polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing process during the height of the pandemic, and the authors utilized over 300,000 records collected between December 2020 and February 2021 that allowed them to determine the proportion of various strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus throughout the population.
Between December 6 and 22, 2020, the B…