Health Care

Covid-19 variant detected in United Kingdom may be more deadly

Covid-19 variant detected in United Kingdom may be more deadly”

The closely watched reproduction "R" number was estimated to be between 0.8 and 1, down from a range of 1.2 to 1.3 last week, meaning that on average, every 10 people infected will infect between eight and 10 other people.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said forging a new trade deal was low on Biden's list of priorities, as he was focusing attention on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control and getting his $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill passed.

This story is developing and will be updated.

Johnson said some 5.3 million people had received their first jab, and the government was on track to achieve its target of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable by mid-February.

Sir Patrick cautioned, however, that this is based on evidence which is "not yet strong" and there is "no real evidence of an increase in mortality" among those admitted to hospital with the variant.

"There is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality", Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference.

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Vallance stressed the variants recently identified in Brazil and South Africa are more worrying because they might be less susceptible to vaccines.

His comments come after Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, told ITV's Robert Peston: "It is a realistic possibility that the new United Kingdom variant increases the risk of death, but there is considerable remaining uncertainty".

He struck a cautious note about any possible lifting of lockdown measures, saying that any easing would be gradual, and would start with the opening of schools.

"It's largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure", added Johnson.

"I think the most important thing is we've got to be in a position where the rate of infection of the virus is not still so high, and it's very high right now".

The chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, said there were signs coronavirus cases were falling - while hospitalisations in parts of England were beginning to "flatline".

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