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The new strain of Covid-19 will likely kill 30% more people than the original coronavirus, scientists have found.
The news was announced by researchers from the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) on Friday, January 22, following a study into the new strain.
The variant, known as B.1.1.7, was first identified in Kent just before Christmas, and has a high number of mutations.
The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been estimated by various modelling exercises to be up to 70% more transmissible than the previously circulating form of the virus.
It has been blamed for the surge of cases being experienced across the UK since its discovery in November last year.
The newly-published research on the lethality of the new strain was done by Nick Davies of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and has been checked by assorted other experts including Professor Neil Ferguson.
Professor Neil Ferguson, who sits on NERVTAG, told Robert Peston, Political Editor for ITV, on Friday: "It is a realistic possibility that the new UK variant increases the risk of death, but there is considerable remaining uncertainty.
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"Four groups – Imperial, LSHTM, PHE and Exeter – have looked at the relationship between people testing positive for the variant vs old strains and the risk of death.
"That suggests a 1.3-fold increased risk of death. So for 60 year-olds, 13 in 1000 might die compared with 10 in 1000 for old strains."
Professor Ferguson added that the research was consistent across different age groups, regions and ethnicities, adding that Boris Johnson is due to discuss the issue at Friday's coronavirus briefing.
But the professor also warned that only 8% of deaths contain information about which strain they had had.
It comes as official figures show the UK's estimated R number has dropped to between 0.8-1.0 which is down from 1.2-1.3 previously.
The Department of Health also said on Friday a further 1,401 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test along with new 40,261 Covid-19 cases.
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