New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Terming it as a more deadly and mortal form, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that the new variant of the coronavirus, which was found in the UK last year in December, is associated with a higher degree of mortality.

Backing his claim with the preliminary data by the scientists of New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), Boris Johnson said that the new strain of the COVID-19 was much deadlier and increase the chances of deaths among the positive coronavirus patients.

However, he assured the UK citizens that the two vaccines being administered in the UK -- Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech -- are effective against all types of variants.

“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 [of England] – may be associated with a higher degree of mortality. It is largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS [National Health Service] is under so much intense pressure,” Johnson said.

“All current evidence shows both vaccines -- Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech -- remain effective against the old and new coronavirus variant,” he stressed.

The new variant was first discovered in Kent, south-east England, and spread rapidly through London and then across other regions of the UK. It was already classified as a more highly-transmissible variant but its risk level was so far not believed to be any greater than the original strain.

UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, also said associated the new strain with a higher degree of mortality and said: “there is evidence that there is an increased risk for people who have the new variant, compared to the old variant."

He, however, stressed that the data is "uncertain", but suggests that for a man in his 60s, the risk of death with the new variant is 13 in 1,000 rather than the original 10 in 1000, making it about 30 per cent more dangerous. But he pointed out that people who have received the vaccine appear to be immune to the new variant, and people who have previously been infected with the original variant appear to be immune to the new variant.

Johnson also sought to highlight the "unprecedented" effort underway with the vaccination programme, which has now covered 5.4 million people with their first dose of the two-dose vaccines, with 400,000 new doses delivered in the last 24 hours alone.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have tested positive for the UK variant of COVID-19 in India has climbed to 145 on Thursday. All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated health care facilities by respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta