British Prime Minister Boris Johnson states that the recently discovered COVID-19 mutation, which has been linked to higher transmissibility may also be deadlier than the widespread variant of the disease.
In a press conference on Friday, Johnson stated that evidence exists of the higher risk of death posed by the variant.
“There is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” said Johnson.
UK Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stated that hospital data on patients showed that the outcomes for both variants of the disease are the same, however, those who test positive for the newly discovered variant have an increased risk of death compared to the original variant.
While the evidence remains preliminary, data assessed by scientists on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisor Group, which advised the government stressed that all current data is “uncertain.” Early data shows the new variant to be 30 per cent more deadly. Newsweek reports that with the original variant, 10 out of 1,000 might be expected to die, Vallance said. In contrast, 13 or 14 people out of 1,000 might die if infected with the new variant. The numbers have been consistent across different age groups.
The new wave of the coronavirus has hospitalized more than 38,000 people in the UK, which Johnson says is 78 percent higher than at the peak of the first wave. More than 40,000 people have been infected with the disease in the last 24 hours, putting the NHS under “significant strain.” The UK death toll currently stands at more than 95,000 and almost 2,000 people died in a single day since the start of the new wave.
Johnson says that he expects the numbers to keep rising “for a while to come.”
As part of its efforts to fight the disease, the UK has vaccinated more than 3.5 million people with over 400,000 vaccinations in the last 24 hours. Vallance says that clinical data suggests that preexisting vaccines would be just as effective in providing protection against the new variant, as well as the original. However, he has raised concerns about its efficacy, which remains unproven, against the South African and Brazilian variants.
Last week, Japanese health officials identified a Brazilian strain of the disease after several individuals tested positive upon their arrival to Tokyo.