(Reuters) - The Beta variant of the coronavirus may be deadlier than the original version of the virus, according to researchers in South Africa who studied more than 1.5 million COVID-19 patients.
Although the Delta variant now accounts for the largest percentage of new COVID-19 cases in many countries, Beta is still circulating, with mutations that make it highly contagious and harder to prevent or treat than the original version.
The researchers found that people infected in the second wave of the pandemic, when Beta was dominant, were more likely to require hospitalization than those infected during the first wave, after accounting for patients' risk factors and how over-burdened hospitals were.
Furthermore, hospitalized COVID-19 patients had a 31% higher risk of death in the second wave, according to the report published in The Lancet Global Health
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