Britain's chief scientist says new coronavirus variant may be more deadly

Britain's chief scientist says new coronavirus variant may be more deadly

An early analysis of the U.K. variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus suggests the one that emerged from there may be more deadly, according to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in an initial report from the BBC.

He, however, stressed that the data is "uncertain", but suggests that for a man in his 60s, the risk of death with the new variant is 13 in 1,000 rather than the original 10 in 1000, making it about 30 per cent more unsafe.

The new mutant strain of coronavirus is between 30 and 90 per cent more deadly than the old one but vaccines will still work, United Kingdom scientists say.

Mr Vautrey said the BMA is "supportive" of the way the vaccination programme is targeting as many people as possible, but they are "open" to looking at the data and implementing it as "best we can".

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The British Prime Minister clarified that the death rate from the new strain of coronavirus, compared to the "old" strain of Covid-19, is 30% higher.

He said out of a thousand 60 year olds, on average 10 would be expected to die if infected with the older variant.

Speaking at a news conference in London, he said new evidence had led the government to reassess its view that the new variant was not more risky.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an unsettling announcement on Friday about B 1.1.7, the variant of the coronavirus first found in the UK last fall that's become widespread in the country and elsewhere.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization's technical lead on COVID-19, said studies were underway to look at the transmission and severity of new virus variants.

However, Peston said the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) had now concluded it "may be a bit more lethal than the existing strain". "We are more concerned that they have certain features, which means they might be less susceptible to vaccines", he said.

It was earlier revealed a further 1,401 deaths had been recorded as of Friday, bringing the UK's total coronavirus death toll to 95,981.

Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, joined Johnson at the news conference.

Also joining Johnson for the press briefing, Chris Whitty, England's Chief Medical Officer, said the most recent data showed that there has been a "turning of a corner" on the positivity rates amid lockdown.

As researchers continue to look closely into the variant, Johnson said that there could be further restrictions on the horizon.

'By a process of relatively simple maths, you can think that if a vaccine is more than 50 per cent effective, if you double the number of people who are vaccinated over this very risky period when there is a lot of virus circulating, you are overall going to get some substantial benefit'.

He said ministers are following "very clear advice" from experts which states the way the Pfizer vaccine is given is "fine", as long as a second dose comes within 12 weeks.

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