THE new variant of coroanvirus spreading through the country appears to be more deadly, Sir Patrick Vallance the Government's chief scientific advisor has said.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon Sir Patrick said the new mutation was more dangerous.
The older variant had a mortality rate of around 10 in 1000 of the Over-60s. The new variant appears to have a mortality rate of 13 or 14 out of 1000.
Sir Patrick said this was concerning - but more work was needed to be done.
However, scientistis believe the vaccines being used in the UK offer good protection from the virus.
The UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the coronavirus variant which emerged in Kent is “a common variant comprising a significant number of cases” and transmits up to 70% more easily than the original virus.
He told a Downing Street press conference: “We think it transmits between 30% and 70% more easily than the old variant. We don’t yet understand why that is the case.
“It doesn’t have a difference in terms of age distribution … it can affect anybody at any age, similarly to the original virus.”
He added that among people who have tested positive for Covid-19, there is “evidence that there is an increased risk” of death for those who have the new variant compared with the old virus.
Sir Patrick cautioned, however, that this is based on evidence which is “not yet strong” and there is “no real evidence of an increase in mortality” among those hospitalised by the variant.
“These data are currently 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.
Sir Patrick Vallance said the Brazilian and South African coronavirus variants are of more concern than the UK strain because there are fears they may be less susceptible to vaccines.
The chief scientific adviser told the Downing Street press conference: “We know less about how much more transmissible they are. We are more concerned that they have certain features that they might be less susceptible to vaccines.
“They are definitely of more concern than the one in the UK at the moment, and we need to keep looking at it and studying it very carefully.”