'Some evidence' United Kingdom coronavirus strain more deadly: Johnson

Grant Boone
January 22, 2021

The COVID-19 variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom may be more deadly than the original virus, the prime minister has warned.

Another 1,401 people were announced on Friday to have died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the total to 95,981.

"In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears there is some evidence that the new variant" may be "associated with a higher degree of mortality," the premier warned, flanked by his top medical advisers.

Clarifying Johnson's comments, Chief Medical Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there is very early "uncertain evidence" that the United Kingdom variant is slightly more deadly than the older strain.

It's expected the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will work against the United Kingdom variant, however there are some concerns around two other variants that have emerged in South Africa and Brazil.

"A very small change and it could start taking off again from an extremely high base, and there are some areas of the country and some age groups in which it does not appear to be going down - for example in people (aged) 20-30, the evidence is that it may still be increasing in some parts of the country".

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. We are more concerned that they have certain features that they might be less susceptible to vaccines.

HEALTH Coronavirus

During a visit to flood-hit Didsbury, in south Manchester on Thursday, Mr Johnson said it is "too early to say" when coronavirus restrictions will be lifted, when asked whether lockdown is likely to end in spring or summer.

"These data are now uncertain, and we don't have a very good estimate of the precise nature or indeed whether it is an overall increase, but it looks like it is", he added.

On average, one in 55 people have got the virus there, rising to one in 35 in London, it found.

The government said the case rates remain "dangerously high" and urged the public to keep to lockdown rules.

The Prime Minister said on Friday the "far more sensible approach" is to reopen "safely and cautiously", starting with schools, to prevent a rapid resurgence of infection rates.

"Loosening it up will inevitably lead to an increase in cases, a resurgence of the pandemic among younger groups, and we can see then that does seep through into hospitalisations".

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News agencies and media from the magazine press union are not included in the agreement, according to French news agency AFP. The report added only a few individual agreements had been signed between Google and French publications prior to the deal.

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