London – There is some evidence that a new coronovirus variant previously identified in south-east England has a high risk of death. The original tension, the British government’s chief scientific adviser said on Friday – though he insisted the data are inconclusive.
Patrick Valence told a news conference that “there is evidence that there is an increased risk for people with the new version.”
He said that for a man in his 60s with the original version of the virus, “the average risk is that about 1,000 people who got infected would expect about 10 to die unfortunately.”
“With the new version, for 1,000 infected people, about 13 or 14 people can be expected to die,” he said.
But Valence emphasized that “the evidence is not yet strong” and more research is needed.
Contrary to that uncertainty, he said, there is increasing confidence that variants are more easily passed on than the original coronavirus virus. He said that it appears to be more permeable 30% to 70%.
Maria Van Kerkhov, technical head of the World Health Organization on COVID-19, said the study was underway to see the transmission and severity of new virus variants.
She said that so far “they have not seen an increase in severity” but that more transmission can lead to a “more caring system of health” and thus more deaths.
Evidence of the new version becoming more lethal is an ina paper prepared by a group of scientists, who advise the government on new respiratory viruses based on several studies.
British scientists said that although preliminary analyzes suggested that stress, first identified in September, was not the cause of the more serious illness, many more recent ones suggested it could be. However, the number of deaths is relatively small, and case patients are affected by many things, including care and their age and health, beyond COVID-19.
British scientists emphasize that the information so far has major limitations, and they do not know what the representatives of the cases involved in the analyzes are doing to the whole country or elsewhere.
One analysis did not find an increased risk of death among hospitalized people with new stress. In the second, the chances of hospitalization with new stress were no different compared to the previously effective one.
There is a lag in reporting hospitalization after infection, and another interval from infection to death, so officials hope to learn more in several weeks.
Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said that “there is a considerable difference in the estimated risk of death between different analyzes, although most, but not all, increase the risk of death,” he said. .
Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading, said, “The data are limited and the conclusion is preliminary. However, an increased case mortality is certainly possible with a virus that has upped its game in transmission.”
British officials say they are confident that vaccines authorized for use against COVID-19 will be effective against the new strain identified in the country.
But Valence said scientists are concerned that variants identified in Brazil and South Africa may be more resistant to vaccines, adding that more research needs to be done.
New travel restrictions around the world have created a stir because of newly identified variants. Many countries have closed their borders for passengers from the UK, and the UK has stopped flights from Brazil and South Africa.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there could be further restrictions.
“We may need to go further to protect our borders,” he said.
The UK has recorded 95,981 deaths among people testing positive for coronovirus, the most confirmed in Europe.
The UK is currently in lockdown in an attempt to slow down the latest surge of coronavirus outbreaks. Pubs, restaurants, entertainment venues and many shops are closed, and people are largely required to stay indoors.
The number of new infections has begun to decline, but deaths remain on average, more than 1,000 per day on average, and the number of hospitalized patients is 80% higher than the first peak of the epidemic in spring.
Johnson, who was often accused of making overly optimistic predictions about coronovirus restrictions, was disappointed.
“We will have to live with coronavirus in one way or another for a long time to come,” he said, adding that the measures could be eased.
“At this stage you really have to be very, very cautious,” he said.
“I don’t think this virus is going anywhere,” he said. “It’s going to be around forever, maybe.”
___ AP’s chief medical writer Merlin Marchionne and medical writer Maria Cheng contributed to this story.
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