British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, with the first data from the Government’s scientific committee, that there are “some indications” that the new variant of the coronavirus detected for the first time in London and other areas of southeast England may be ” associated with a higher level of mortality “than the coronavirus that circulated in the first wave, in addition to being more transmissible.
“We have been informed today that, in addition to expanding more rapidly, there now also appears to be some indication that the new variant, identified in London and the South East, could be associated with a higher level of mortality,” he said. The data, analyzed by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), is still preliminary.
Johnson explained in a press conference that, due to the impact of this new variant, the public health system (NHS) is “under greater pressure”, although he added that the vaccines that are being administered in the country are effective against both strains in the opinion of scientists.
The new British variant is transmitted between 30 and 70% more easily (although why is still unknown), and there is no difference in terms of age distribution, the government’s main scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, has said in collected statements. by The Guardian.
Vallance has explained that in anyone who has tested positive there are indications of a greater risk in those who have the new variant compared to the previous variant, This difference has been detected by observing all those who test positive for COVID-19, but the analysis of those admitted to hospitals has not detected an increase in the mortality rate.
The scientific advisor has insisted that the data is still unclear and the evidence on lethality “is not yet solid.” “I want to underline that there is a lot of uncertainty around these figures and that we need more work to have an accurate knowledge about it, but it is obviously worrying that this has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility,” said Wallance, according to the BBC.
The British government’s advisory committee on virus notes that the new British variant of the coronavirus could be up to 30% more deadly. Vallance has given the example of a 60-year-old whose average risk is that for every 1,000 infected people, approximately 10 are expected to die with the old variant. With the new variant, about 13 or 14 are expected to die, they explained.
He Nervtag report, which is based on a series of analyzes, says that “there is a realistic possibility that infection” with the new variant (B.1.1.7) “is associated with an increased risk of death compared to” infection with other variants . “It must be taken into account that the absolute risk of death from infection remains low,” he says, before indicating that, given that the time that elapses from infection to hospitalization and death is relatively long, the data will be accumulated in the next few weeks, when the analyzes will be “more definitive.”
According to Jonhson, the 38,562 patients with COVID-19 currently in British hospitals is a figure 78% higher than the peak registered in the first wave, in April. The British Ministry of Health announced this Friday that in the last 24 hours there have been 1,401 new deaths caused by the disease.
Concern in the EU
This variant is believed to have first emerged in the UK in September 2020. Since last December 20, at least 60 countries have identified cases of the B.1.1.7 lineage, including Spain. This variant was until now associated with higher transmissibility (that is, more efficient and faster transmission). There is currently no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the efficacy of the vaccine. So far, it has spread to become the dominant variant of the virus in England and Northern Ireland, the BBC reports.
The UK has one of the best gene mutation surveillance systems in the world, but other countries do much less sequencing. WHO has stressed the importance of carrying out more genetic testing around the world to ensure that new variants of the virus are detected, as well as sharing information with the health agency.
In the European Union, mutations are of increasing concern. Countries like Portugal and the Netherlands have begun to suspend flights for fear of new variants. Belgium has banned non-essential travel between January 27 and March 1 this Friday
This Thursday, the heads of state and government were discussing the status of the pandemic for just over four hours. Throughout the debate, a position was built around the need to keep borders open, but with restrictions on non-essential travel due to fear of new variants of the coronavirus. A position that the countries most dependent on tourism do not end up sharing, which fear losing another campaign of their main industry and, therefore, encourage the possibility that vaccine certificates can be compared to PCR tests and allow freedom of movement in the EU.
The European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said that the idea of a new “dark red” zone on the coronavirus map had been discussed, where infection rates are higher and non-essential travel should be seriously discouraged if not restricted although there is still little homogeneity among the 27 in data collection.
Source: ElDiario.es – ElDiario.es by www.eldiario.es.
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