The COVID-19 variant first found in the U.K. but is now making its way across the U.S. could be up to 70% more deadlier than the early version of the virus, according to a new British study.
At first, scientists there said the new variant was more communicable, but added that it did not appear more dangerous. But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson late last month tweeted that it “may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”
“We have now learned that, in addition to spreading more quickly, the new variant of the virus may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson said. “It is therefore more important than ever that we all follow the rules and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
We have now learned that, in addition to spreading more quickly, the new variant of the virus may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality.
It is therefore more important than ever that we all follow the rules and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 22, 2021
The new study, which examined a large number of patients, appears to confirm that.
“There is evidence from analysis of multiple different datasets that infection with VOC B1.1.7 is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization and death compared to infection with” other forms of the virus, the authors of the study said.
The more transmissible strain has spread to more than 80 countries, including the U.S., according to reports.
The first case of the strain found in the U.S. was detected Tuesday in a Colorado resident who had not travelled abroad.
“Today we discovered Colorado’s first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK,” Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis wrote last month on Twitter. “The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely.”
The strain was found in a man in his 20s who had no travel history, state health officials told The Associated Press.
“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious,” Polis said. “The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels.”
Also last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that there are “more ominous” strains of COVID-19 that are emerging in South Africa and Brazil.
Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said U.S. researchers are “very carefully” examining the two new mutant strains, as well as another first detected in the United Kingdom that is reportedly far more contagious.
“People need to realize there’s more than one mutant strain,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There’s one from the UK that’s essentially dominated. There’s another more ominous one that’s in South Africa and Brazil,” he said. “The Brits have made it very clear that [the strain detected there is] more contagious,” Fauci said.
“They say that it isn’t more virulent. But, you know, we’ve got to be careful because the more cases you get, even though on a one-to-one basis it’s not more virulent, meaning it doesn’t make you more sick or more likely to die, just by numbers alone the more cases you have, the more hospitalizations you’re going to have,” he noted.
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