New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – The more contagious new coronavirus variant first detected in the UK may also be more lethal than previous versions, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Friday.
“There is some evidence that the new variant … may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson said at a press conference in London.
The new variant was identified in the greater London area last month through genomic testing and has since been found around the world, including in the US.
The new strain is considered 30% to 70% more infectious, but experts initially said they lacked evidence to suggest it caused more intense disease.
That assessment appears to be changing.
If a thousand men between 60 and 70 years old become infected with the new variant, 13 to 14 likely would die, England’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Valance said Friday.
That compares with only 10 such patients who likely would die from the old variant, he said.
“It’s more important than ever that we all remain vigilant in following the rules and that we stay at home,” Johnson said from his podium during the Downing Street update.
But Johnson stressed officials still believe the major vaccines rolling out in the UK offer adequate protection against the new strain.
“All current evidence continues to show that both the vaccines we’re currently using remain effective, both against the old variant and this new variant,” he said.
Valance said scientists at BioNTech, the German partner behind Pfizer’s vaccine, conducted studies on the blood of vaccinated patients this week that showed its formula exhibited “very good neutralization” of the new UK variant.
And he said people previously infected with the first coronavirus strain appeared “equally protected” against the new strain.