The COVID-19 variant that originated in the UK and is now spreading in the US may be up to 70 percent deadlier than previous versions of the bug, according to a British study.
A group that includes experts from universities and public agencies in the UK found that the variant — known as B.1.1.7 — is likely about 30 percent to 70 percent deadlier than the original strain, according to Fox News.
Scientists had already determined that the so-called Kent variant — named after the county where it was first detected — was probably that much more transmissible.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted last month that it “may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”
The new follow-up study, which examined a larger sample size of patients, appeared to confirm those conclusions.
The findings from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group were published Friday on the government’s website.
“There is evidence from analysis of multiple different datasets that infection with VOC B1.1.7 is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization [sic] and death compared to infection with” other forms of the virus, the authors wrote.
Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, visits a PPE manufacturing facility.Scott Heppell, WPA/Getty Images
The highly transmissible variant has spread to more than 80 countries, including the US, where more than 1,000 cases have been reported in 40 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the US, where the mutation was first identified in Colorado, it has since also been deetected in New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Utah, among others.
“These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19,” according to the CDC. “An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.”
EMTs work in a field hospital tent outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, California.PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images
The results of the analysis are worrisome, said Dr. David Strain, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School and the clinical lead for COVID-19 at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.
“The higher transmissibility means that people who were previously at low risk of catching COVID (particularly younger fitter females) are now catching it and ending up in hospital,″ Strain said.
“This is highlighted by the latest figures for hospitalization that now suggest almost 50:50 male to female ratio compared to this being predominantly in men during the first wave.″
With Post wires