British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, with the first data from the Government’s scientific committee, that there are “some indications” that the new variant of the coronavirus detected for the first time in London and other areas of southeast England may be ” associated with a higher level of mortality “, in addition to being more transmissible.
“We have been informed today that, in addition to expanding more rapidly, there now also appears to be some indication that the new variant, identified in London and the South East, could be associated with a higher level of mortality,” he said.
Johnson explained in a press conference that, due to the impact of this new variant, the public health system (NHS) is “under greater pressure”, although he added that the vaccines that are being administered in the country are effective against both strains in the opinion of scientists.
The new British variant is transmitted between 30 and 70% more easily (although why is still unknown), and there is no difference in terms of age distribution, said the government’s main scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, in collected statements. by The Guardian. On severity and mortality, Vallance has said that the data on patients in hospitals, the results for those with the old and new variants are the same.
However, he has explained that in anyone who has tested positive, there are indications of a higher risk in those who have the new variant compared to the previous variant, although he has insisted that the data is still unclear and the evidence on the lethality “not yet solid”.
“I want to underline that there is a lot of uncertainty around these figures and that we need more work to have an accurate knowledge about it, but it is obviously worrying that this has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility,” said Wallance, according to the BBC.
The British government’s advisory committee on virus notes that the new British variant of the coronavirus could be up to 30% more deadly. Vallance has given the example of a 60-year-old, whose average risk is that for every 1,000 infected people, approximately 10 are expected to die with the old variant. With the new variant, about 13 or 14 are expected to die, they explained.
This variant is believed to have first emerged in the UK in September 2020. Since last December 20, at least 60 countries have cases of the B.1.1.7 lineage, including Spain. This variant was until now associated with higher transmissibility (that is, more efficient and faster transmission). There is currently no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the efficacy of the vaccine.
According to Jonhson, the 38,562 COVID-19 patients currently in British hospitals is a figure 78% higher than the peak registered in the first wave, in April. The British Ministry of Health announced this Friday that in the last 24 hours there have been 1,401 new deaths caused by the disease.