The new variant of Covid-19 that has been ripping through the UK is believed to be "more deadly" than previously thought.

Boris Johnson announced at the latest Downing Street briefing that the evidence shows it has been linked to more deaths from the virus.

The Prime Minister said it "appears there is some evidence" that it "may be associated with a higher degree of mortality".

This comes just weeks after the public were advised that the new variant was more easily transmitted.

Sir Patrick Vallance says there are three major variants of "potential concern" when it comes to COVID - UK, South Africa and Brazil.

The chief scientific adviser says the variant first found in the UK is 30 to 70% more easily transmissible than any other variant, but the reason for this not yet clear.

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Sir Patrick says there is evidence there is an increased risk for those who have the new variant among those who test positive overall.

But he adds the data are "not yet strong", noting that increased mortality is not yet seen in hospital cases of COVID.

Setting out the potential change, Sir Patrick says that with the older variant, out of 1,000 people infected, 10 would be expected to die.

With the UK variant, the available data suggests that 13 or 14 people would be expected to die.

Despite the negative news, Boris Johnson says the UK remains "on track" to offer a vaccine dose to the top four priority groups by the middle of next month.

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The prime minister says he wants to thank everyone who has come forward for a jab.

Mr Johnson told the public: "When that letter arrives, please don't hesitate to book that appointment."

He says the vaccine is the "best and fastest way to defeat this virus" and for life to begin returning to normal.

The reproduction number of Covid-19 transmission has now dropped below 1 for the first time in 2021.

The number, or R value, indicates how the virus is spreading, with a value above 1 showing that the virus is growing exponentially.

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A value below 1 shows that the virus is shrinking.

The Government Office of Science, and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have published their latest estimate of between 0.8 and 1, across the UK.

That is down from between 1.2 and 1.3 last week.

The R number between 0.8 and 1 suggests that for every 10 people infected they will infect another 8 and 10 people.