PM Johnson: Covid Variant ‘ More Deadly’ than Original Strain

UK's Health authorities assure existing vaccines remain responsive against the mutation


There has been evidence that the new Covid-19 strain earlier discovered in the United Kingdom is more deadly compared to the original strain of the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a media briefing on Friday (January 22).

Johnson announced that the new, more easily transmittable and fast-spreading variant of COVID-19 may also be associated with a higher risk of mortality.

“We’ve been informed today that in addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant, the variant that was first identified in London and the Southeast, may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson said.

However, the UK prime minister also disclosed that available vaccines particularly those of Pfizer-BioNTeach and Oxford-AstraZeneca that are being administered by the country’s NHS have ‘very good neutralization’ of the variant virus.

The variant which was first discovered in London and the southeast of England is called B.1.1.7. It has an unusually high number of mutations and was already associated with a more efficient and rapid transmission.

Patrick Vallance, UK’s chief scientific adviser, said there is evidence that patients who were hospitalized with the new variant did not appear to have a higher risk of dying compared to those hospitalized with the original form of the virus.

“The first thing to say is that we have confidence that this is spreading more easily than the old variants. So we think it transmits between 30 and 70% more easily than the old variant,” Vallance said.

However, Vallance said that while there’s no evidence of mortality increase for those in the hospital when compared with data of those who tested positive, there has been evidence that it is more lethal than earlier reported.

“When we look at data from hospitals, so patients who are in hospital with the virus, the outcomes for those with the original virus or the new variant look the same. So there’s no real evidence of an increase in mortality for those in hospital. However, when data are looked at, in terms of those who’ve been tested positive, so anyone who’s tested positive, there is evidence that there’s an increased risk for those who have the new variant compared to the old virus,” Vallance explained.

In the UK, the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive test now stands at 95,981.

As a result of the spread of the new Covid variant, the UK’s NHS has been in an intense pressure as cases have climbed to another 40,261 cases as of Friday. His number means the total number of cases recorded in the UK has climbed to 3,583,907 since the pandemic began.

Out of these cases, Johnson said 38,562 COVID patients are currently hospitalized or 78% higher than the first peak of Covid-19 in April while an additional 1,401 deaths in the past 24 hours have been reported.

Scientists first detected the B.1.1.7 variant in September and it has since been found in at least 44 countries. The UK remains on a strict lockdown as its NHS and Public Health authorities scramble to attend to those who were tested positive of Covid-19 while a vaccination program has also been ongoing.

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JM Agreda is a freelance journalist for more than 12 years writing for numerous international publications, research journals, and news websites. He mainly covers business, tech, transportation, and political news for Businessner.