UK Covid variant up to 100% more deadly than previous strain warns study – ‘More lethal’

Jonathan Van-Tam warns coronavirus battle 'not yet won'

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The B.1.1.7 or VOC-202012/01 variant was found in the UK and quickly spread to other countries including America. The British strain has been detected in 47 states across the US.

The new report published in the British Medical Journal has provided further evidence that the highly transmissible variant has a significantly higher mortality rate.

The study found that those infected with the UK variant were between 32 and 104 percent (central estimate being 64 percent) more likely to die compared to individuals who had the previously circulating variants.

Despite the increased mortality, the risk of death still remains fairly low.

The researchers said that deaths increased from 2.5 to 4.1 per 1,000 detected cases.

The authors of the study wrote: “But clinicians and public health officials should be aware that a higher mortality rate is likely even if practice remains unchanged.

“The probability that the risk of mortality is increased by infection with VOC-202012/01 is high.

“If this finding is generalisable to other populations, infection with VOC-202012/1 has the potential to cause substantial additional mortality compared with previously circulating variants.

“Health care capacity planning and national and international control policies are all impacted by this finding, with increased mortality lending weight to the argument that further coordinated and stringent measures are justified to reduce deaths from SARS-CoV-2.”

The UK variant was initially detected in Kent, southeast England, last year.

The strain is thought to be 40 to 70 percent more transmissible than previous variants.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 3,283 confirmed cases of the UK variant in America.

The study concluded: “The variant of concern, in addition to being more transmissible, seems to be more lethal.

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“We expect this to be associated with changes in its phenotypic properties because of multiple genetic mutations and we see no reason why this finding would be specific to the UK.”

The scientists compared the outcomes of 54,000 people infected with the UK variant to the same number who were infected with the original virus between October and January.

In January, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned that the UK variant could be 30 percent more deadly.

In response to the new findings, Dr Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “While it is important to note that absolute risk remained low this is substantially higher than the 30-40 per cent possible increase reported by Sir Patrick Vallance on January 22, which was dismissed as unlikely in some quarters.

“It is now well established that the Kent variant is more transmissible; it has come to dominate in the UK and it is increasing in prevalence in other parts of the developed world.

“This increased lethality, in addition to the increased transmissibility, means that this version of the virus presents a substantial challenge to healthcare systems and policymakers.

“It also makes it even more important people get vaccinated when called.”

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