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article imageUK variant of COVID-19 may be more deadly than others

By Karen Graham     Jan 23, 2021 in Health
Early evidence suggests the variant of coronavirus that emerged in the UK may be more deadly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. However, there remains huge uncertainty around the numbers - and vaccines are still expected to work.
On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a Downing Street briefing, updated the public on the coronavirus raging in the country, however, the news was not what anyone wanted to hear, reports the BBC.
Mr. Johnson said: "In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant - the variant that was first identified in London and the southeast - may be associated with a higher degree of mortality. It's largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure."
"Both the vaccines we're currently using remain effective both against the old variant and this new variant," he added.
The UK's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said patients who were hospitalized with the new variant did not appear to have a higher risk of dying - compared to those patients hospitalized with the original form of the virus, according to CNN.
"However, when data are looked at in terms of... anyone who has tested positive there is evidence that there is an increased risk for those who have the new variant compared to the old [one.]" Vallance added that the evidence wasn't that strong yet, while the data remains "uncertain."
Public Health England, Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Exeter have each been trying to assess how deadly the new variant is.
In turn, the evidence collected by these different institutions has been assessed by scientists on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag).
Vallance explained further: "If you took... a man in their 60s, the average risk is that for 1,000 people who got infected, roughly 10 would be expected to, unfortunately, die with the virus. With the new variant, for 1,000 people infected, roughly 13 or 14 people might be expected to die," he said Friday.
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."
While there is still uncertainty over this new batch of data, Public Health England is still calling for citizens to adhere to government guidance, warning once again on Friday that "not everyone with coronavirus shows symptoms" and urging for people to stay at home.
More about UK variant, Covid19, higher mortality rate, more contagious, Boris Johnson
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