LONDON, U.K. — Preliminary data from the United Kingdom suggests the variant of coronavirus detected in that country last fall, and identified here in the U.S., may be more deadly, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"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,” Johnson said Friday during a news conference.
The evidence reportedly comes from analyzing trends in the numbers of people dying with the UK variant versus the old variants. The BBC reports the new variant appears to be about 30% more deadly.
"I want to stress that there's a lot of uncertainty around these numbers and we need more work to get a precise handle on it, but it obviously is a concern that this has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility,” said Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific advisor, during Friday’s briefing.
Johnson did say the evidence shows the current vaccines remain effective against the UK variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month they believe the UK variant of the coronavirus will become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March. Many health experts believe the UK variant has been in the U.S. for several weeks and is spreading quickly because it is more transmissible.
Studies have already shown the UK variant can spread more easily from person to person.
It was first identified in England in September, and became the dominant strain there within a few months, prompting more lockdown measures from the British government.