What is behind fears that British Covid-19 variant is more deadly?

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Jan 27, 2021, 11.35 AM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Initially, British experts said that their evidence suggested the new strain circulating in the UK -- one of several to have emerged internationally in recent months -- was between 50 per cent and 70 per cent more transmissible.
 

British Covid experts have warned that the new coronavirus variant first identified in the country last month could be significantly more lethal as well as more contagious, raising the stakes in the global vaccination race.

Initially, British experts said that their evidence suggested the new strain circulating in the UK -- one of several to have emerged internationally in recent months -- was between 50 per cent and 70 per cent more transmissible. 

On Friday, however, the government said the new variant could also be 30-40 per cent more deadly, although it stressed the assessment relied on sparse data.

What new evidence do the UK scientists have? 

The mortality-risk evidence comes from the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and is based on four separate studies carried out on the same dataset. The studies link data from COVID-19 testing in the community with deaths from the disease.

While each analysis showed a slightly different result, all of them pointed to higher mortality risk among people infected with the B.1.1.7 variant than among those infected with other variants in the UK.

None of the analyses suggested the death risk is lower.

NERVTAG combined the findings into a model which estimated an average mortality risk increase of about 30%.

(With inputs from agencies)

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