A coronavirus variant that originated in the UK is known to be more transmissible.
Now scientists are saying the B.1.1.7 variant is likely more deadly than the original strain.
The variant is spreading across the US and to at least 82 other countries.
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The coronavirus variant that originated in the United Kingdom is likely deadlier than the original strain, according to a new assessment released on Friday by British government scientists.
In the report, which evaluated multiple studies, the scientists estimated that the strain, known as B.1.1.7, could be 30% to 70% deadlier than the original virus.
Studies have already shown the UK strain to be more transmissible and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last month that it could also be “associated with a higher degree of mortality.”
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The assessment confirmed that concern, but the scientists also said there would need to be more extensive studies conducted on deaths.
Meanwhile, the more contagious variant has been circulating throughout the world and the US. It has been detected in at least 82 countries, according to The New York Times. A study published earlier this month found the UK variant was spreading so quickly across the US that the case count involving that strain was doubling about every ten days.
“These findings show that B.1.1.7 will likely become the dominant variant in many US states by March 2021, leading to further surges of COVID-19 in the country, unless urgent mitigation efforts are immediately implemented,” the paper said.
The study also said the UK variant is 35% to 45% more transmissible than other strains spreading in the US. Scientists have also expressed concern that the variant could be developing a mutation that would help it evade vaccines.
It is not yet clear why the UK variant may have a higher mortality rate. Scientists have said one possible reason is that people who become infected with it could have a higher viral load, or more of the virus in their bodies, which is linked to more severe COVID-19, Insider reported.
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