‘Some evidence’ British coronavirus variant causes more deaths

Elias Hubbard
January 23, 2021

Then the prime minister of the country said that the new strain of coronavirus is 70% more infectious than the usual one.

"So there's no real evidence of an increase in mortality for those in hospital".

"It's very hard to compare between laboratories on this data, and we need to get more clinical information to understand how much of an effect, if any, there is on the vaccine, but they are definitely of more concern than the one in the United Kingdom at the moment", he added.

"There is quite a bit of difference in the estimated increased risk of death between the different analyses, though most but not all show increased risk of death", he said.

A picture of new US President Joe Biden is on the FT Weekend, with their main story also focusing on the suggestion the Covid variant is more deadly, a story which also leads the Independent and the Daily Mirror.

For a thousand people in that group who became infected with the old variant, roughly 10 would be expected to die - whereas with the new variant it might be 13 or 14, with similar increases in mortality rates across the age ranges. Though the exact numbers differ between groups, they suggest that B 1.1.7 is about 30% more likely to cause death than previous strains.

"There is evidence that there's an increased risk for those who have the new variant, compared with the old virus", he said.

Until now, scientists felt confident the strain didn't pose a more serious disease.

The situation is so bleak that, according to British news reports, authorities are considering offering 500 pounds (about $680) to anyone testing positive for the virus to help them stay in quarantine for the full 10 days, which many now do not.

Based on preliminary data briefing by scientists at the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), Mr. Johnson admitted that it would seem the new variant was deadlier but stressed that the two vaccines being administered in the UK - Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca - are effective against all variants.

At his Friday press conference, PM Johnson warned that the "British" Covid strain's transmissibility and mortality had left the National Health Service under "intense pressure", and that over 40,000 new cases of the virus had been recorded in the past 24 hours alone.

The R rate - which represents the number of people an infected person will pass COVID-19 on to - is officially below 1 again.

However, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies programme, said it had not yet seen evidence that the variant is more lethal.

"So, for unlocking just to lead to another big rebound, I think that would be the wrong thing, the wrong way, to approach this". One analysis, by The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, accounted for "hospital pressure covariates" like the number of available hospital beds for patients on a ventilator but found no substantial change in their conclusions.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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