UK chief scientist says new virus variant may be more deadly

LONDON (AP) – There is some evidence that a new coronavirus variant first identified in southeast England carries a higher risk of death than the original strain, the British government’s chief scientific advisor said on Friday – though he stressed that the data is uncertain

Patrick Vallance told a news conference that “there is evidence that there is an increased risk for those who have the new variant”.

He said that for a man in his 60s with the original version of the virus, “the average risk is that for 1,000 people who got infected, roughly 10 would be expected to unfortunately die”.

“With the new variant, for 1,000 people infected, roughly 13 or 14 people might be expected to die,” he said.

But Vallance stressed that “the evidence is not yet strong” and more research is needed.

In contrast to that uncertainty, he said, there is growing confidence that the variant is more easily passed on than the original coronavirus strain. He said it appears to be between 30 per cent and 70 per cent more transmissible.

Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance. PHOTO: AFP