Evidence suggests the UK variant may be linked to a higher mortality rate, but officials say it will not disrupt the vaccine roll-out.
The new UK variant of coronavirus that has spread around the world may be more deadly as well as more contagious, Boris Johnson has announced.
Scientists advising the Government have concluded that the strain identified in Kent last year, named B117, could increase the death rate by nearly a third among some age groups.
The Prime Minister was briefed on the latest developments by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), who analysed data from researchers at Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Exeter University and Public Health England.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Friday: “We’ve been informed today that in addition to spreading more quickly it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant, the variant that was first identified in London and the South East, may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.
Read more: Jackboot Johnson says there is ‘some evidence’ new ‘Covid variant’ may lead to more deaths – (‘There is some evidence that you are no longer frightened enough to let us destroy you and so we have to do something about that’)