THE NEW UK mutant strain of Covid-19 MAY be between 30 and 90 percent more deadly, say scientists as they continue to study the virus.
Speaking on Friday, January 23 (2021) at a Downing Street conference, the PM said he had seen "some evidence" the new "Kent" strain is "associated with a higher degree of mortality".
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What is the new Covid strain?
The new strain's scientific name is VUI 2020/01, with VUI standing for Variant Under Investigation.
The variant has been behind a surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations since December 2020 – which forced the PM to tighten Christmas rules before placing England into a third national lockdown on January 5.
The highly infections UK variant of Covid-19 first detected in Kent has now been found in over 60 countries around the world.
Essentially, the mutant strain's origins are still being probed by Public Health England laboratories at Porton Down, Wiltshire.
With no concrete evidence so far explaining how and where it comes from, it can only be assumed to have emerged in England — because that was where most of the known cases were originally reported.
Scientists believe it mutated within a Covid patient's body.
The new variant was first prominent in and around the south of England.
But on Friday, January 23, 2020t, the World health Organization (WHO) confirmed the new UK variant has been found in 60 countries around the world.
How deadly is the new Covid strain?
It's being blamed for the huge increases in cases in the UK in the last month.
Case rates across the UK increased by more than 50 per cent between November 29 and December 13.
The new strain is believed to be able to increase the country’s R rate – which is currently estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.2 – by 0.4 per cent.
However, Patrick Vallance said on Friday that 13 or 14 people per 1000 would die of the new strain, compared to around 10 of the old strain.
Three separate groups of experts advising the Government have looked at the impact of the more contagious Kent variant on mortality.
Researchers concluded the new strain is between 29 and 91 per cent more likely to kill infected Brits – with three different studies showing very different results.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said it could be 1.35 times more deadly, Imperial College London said it was between 1.36, or 1.29 (depending on the method used), and the University of Exeter found it may be 1.91 times more deadly.
The research was only based on a few hundreds deaths, but scientists followed them through from infection through to death.
The PM told the press conference tonight: "We've been informed today in addition to spreading more quickly, it appears there is some evidence the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality."
He warned the infection rate was "forbiddingly high".
But it comes as SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) reportedly warned that scientists are only 50 per cent certain the Kent mutant strain could be more deadly.
It is believed Boris Johnson was handed the information just hours before his grim press conference from No10 last night, the Daily Mail reports.
Does the Covid vaccine work on the new strain?
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech appears to protect against B.1.1.7, according to results of a new study.
In a study, researchers from BioNTech collected blood samples from 16 people who had received the Pfizer vaccine in previous clinical trials.
They found that a lab-made version of the virus – with all the mutations resembling the B.1.1.7 variant – was neutralised by the volunteer’s immune system.
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