UK coronavirus variant 64% deadlier than previous strains: study

The coronavirus strain that first emerged within the Unite Kingdom and is now spreading across the world is 64% more deadly than the previous strains, consistent with a study published Wednesday.

The variant, detected late last year, is one among several to possess emerged in recent months from countries with large epidemics, raising the stakes within the race to rein within the pandemic.

British authorities, who had already warned the variant was significantly more transmissible, in January said it had been also believed to be up to 40% more deadly, supported variety of studies within the UK.

Findings from one among those studies, led by the University of Exeter, were published within the BMJ Wednesday.

Researchers compared data for nearly 55,000 pairs of participants who tested positive within the community — instead of in hospitals — between October and January and followed them for 28 days.

Participants were matched on a variety of things like age, sex and ethnicity.

They found that those infected with the new variant, referred to as B.1.1.7, were 64% more likely to die, representing a rise in deaths from 2.5 to 4.1 in every 1,000 detected cases.

Community testing tends to select up more low risk cases, but the researchers said that if the findings were ready to be generalised to other populations, the variant has the “potential to cause substantial additional mortality compared with previously circulating variants”.

Simon Clarke, professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said the increased lethality added to its faster spread meant that “this version of the virus presents a considerable challenge to healthcare systems and policy makers.

“It also makes it even more important people get vaccinated when called,” he added.

Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton said the findings highlighted the risks in allowing the virus to spread widely.

“The more COVID-19 there’s , the more chance there’s of a replacement variant of concern emerging,” he said, adding that this included the likelihood of variants that would affect vaccination.

While most vaccine-makers have said evidence shows immunisations already developed are effective against the variant that emerged from Britain, other variants just like the one spreading in South Africa have mutations that have led to concerns they might escape the immune reaction .

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