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Boris Johnson says coronavirus variant in UK could be more deadly

Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it could also become prevalent in the United States within two months.

At a news briefing at 10 Downing Street, Johnson and his advisers gave a first indication that the strain could be more deadly.

England’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Valance, gave an example. He said that among 1,000 men in England aged 60 or over, the original virus would kill 1

0. The new variant, he said, would kill 13 or 14. That would represent a 30 per cent increase in mortality, although it is important to note that the absolute risk of death remains very low.

Since the new version was introduced in the UK last year, public health officials have emphasized that the new mutation does not appear to worsen or increase mortality – and so this small but measurable increase in mortality is potentially worrying.

Valance did not explain why the option could be more deadly.

Valance called the new data preliminary.

“I want to emphasize that there is a lot of uncertainty about these figures and we need more work to get an accurate account of it,” he said. “But it’s obviously worrying that this is leading to increased mortality as well as increased transmission.”

The prime minister and his scientific adviser reiterated claims that evidence to date shows that existing vaccines remain effective against the original virus and new variants.

Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, told science reporters, “as bleak as it sounds, whether the death rate is 1 percent or 1.3 percent doesn’t really change the fact that it’s a very dangerous virus for a minority of people.” which is best avoided. “

Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine and expert on infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia, called the evidence of a slight increase in mortality “really disappointing”, but said it would not change the way Britain fights the pandemic through a combination of national lock and mass vaccinations.

The coronavirus, like all viruses, replicates and changes all the time – with errors and mutations in its genetic material.

Most of these mutations are not important, but some can cause the virus to become more or less infectious or to infect people more or less.

In addition to the so-called “UK variant”, new mutations found in South Africa and Brazil are closely monitored, as changes in their genetic makeup can help them avoid antibodies produced to fight the original virus.

Valance said: “They have certain characteristics, which means they may be less susceptible to vaccines.”

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