Coronavirus: Boris Johnson warns of evidence that new UK variant of coronavirus may be linked to a higher death rate

THE new UK variant of coronavirus may be linked to a higher death rate, the prime minister has warned.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 6:34 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd January 2021, 6:38 pm

Boris Johnson has said there is some evidence that the new UK variant of coronavirus may be linked to a ‘higher degree of mortality’.

The new variant now makes up more than 60 per cent of cases in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, according to Richard Samuel, the lead for the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight sustainability and transformation plan.

Speaking at this afternoon’s Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said: ‘I must tell you this afternoon that 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.’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture date: Friday January 22, 2021. Leon Neal/PA Wire

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Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said studies were currently going on to work out why the Kent Covid variant might be more deadly.

He told the press conference: ‘In terms of why it might be transmitting more readily, people are looking at this in laboratories all over the world for all of these variants.

‘I think one thing we don’t think is the cause is that people have a higher viral load and shed more virus. We don’t think that’s the case. It may be that it binds more solidly to the receptor for the virus and gets into cells more easily as a result.

‘It may be that it grows more readily in certain cell types. Those are things that people are looking at and more information will come. What we can conclude is that there must be some mechanism by which it can actually bind or enter cells somehow.’

There have now been 11,478 Covid-19 cases in Portsmouth since the start of the pandemic, as of January 22, with an infection rate of 5,341 per 100,000 people.

Gosport has seen 2,891 cases, Fareham has had 4,101 and there have been 5,889 in Havant.

Queen Alexandra Hospital has seen 637 deaths.

There have been 332 deaths confirmed so far by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also recorded 332 deaths.

Southern NHS Trust has seen 38, and Solent NHS Trust six.

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