New coronavirus variant 'may be more deadly', United Kingdom warns

New coronavirus variant 'may be more deadly', United Kingdom warns

The new COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom may be more lethal than previous strains, according to the country's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

This new finding comes after the United Kingdom recorded a further 1401 covid-related deaths yesterday, bringing the country's death toll to 95,981.

The strain has also spread to more than 60 nations - including China, where the pandemic began more than a year ago - according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

"We've been informed that in addition to spreading more quickly. there is some evidence that the new variant. may be more associated with a higher degree of mortality", Johnson said at a news conference on Friday.

He blamed the variant for the grim situation engulfing Britain, where another 1,401 fatalities were announced Friday, taking the overall toll to 95,981 - the highest in Europe.

"Because it's quite feasible that deaths will have come down considerably, infections should have come down considerably, hospitalisations and ICU will still be under a lot of pressure".

The UK's Chief Scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said the data suggested that, for every thousand people over the age of sixty infected with the original strain of the virus, ten would die.

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The chief scientific adviser told the Downing Street press conference: "We know less about how much more transmissible they are".

Vallance added: "That's the sort of change for that sort of age group, an increase from 10 to 13 or 14 out of 1,000 and you will see that across the different age groups as well, a similar sort of relative increase in the risk".

Johnson added that evidence showed the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford University's AstraZeneca, both now being used in the United Kingdom, remained effective against both the old and new covid variants.

Mr Johnson said there could be no easing of lockdown measures in England until at least February 15 by which time up to 15 million of the most vulnerable and other priority groups should have received the jab.

It is also aiming to inoculate the entire adult population by September at the latest. Last week, the R rate was estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3.

However, England's chief medical officer professor, Chris Whitty, said, while this was true, the coronavirus situation in the United Kingdom remained "extremely precarious".

With the United Kingdom variant, the available data suggests that 13 or 14 people out of 1,000 from the same age group would be expected to die, he added.

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