'SOME' evidence suggests the new UK variant of coronavirus may be linked to a higher death rate - says Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “I must tell you this afternoon that 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 South East, may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”
In the UK, a further 1,401 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the UK total to 95,981.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 112,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance 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.
He 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.
He said: “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.
Boris Johnson has again urged people to come forward for a “life-saving vaccine” when invited to do so.
The Prime Minister added: “I say to everyone, when that letter arrives please don’t hesitate to book that appointment and get this life-saving protection because this is the best and fastest way for us all to defeat this virus and get our lives back to normal.”
In better news, Government scientists believe the reproduction number – the R – for coronavirus has fallen to below 1 across the UK, suggesting a retreating epidemic.
A subgroup of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) put the R – which represents how many people an infected person will pass the virus on to – at 0.8 to 1.0, down from 1.2 to 1.3 last week.