According to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, early evidence seems to suggest that the new COVID-19 variant first identified in the South East of England “may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”
The Prime Minister also stated that both vaccines being used in the United Kingdom — one from Pfizer/BioNTech and another from AstraZeneca — were effective against the faster-spreading variant.
“We have been informed today, 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 during a press conference.
Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance, added that, while data from hospitals suggests that there is no increase in mortality, data from those who have tested positive indicates otherwise.
“When we look at data from hospitals — so patients who are in hospital with the virus — the outcomes for those with the original virus or the new variant look the same. So there’s no real evidence of an increase in mortality for those in hospitals,” Vallance said.
“However, when data are looked at in terms of those who’ve been tested positive — so anyone who’s tested positive — there is evidence that there’s an increased risk for those who have the new variant compared to the old virus.”
Vallance clarified that the evidence “is not yet strong” and that it is based on “a series of different bits of information.”
This new variant has already been detected in other countries across the world, including the United States. According to The Hill, “A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week warned that the strain could become more dominant in the U.S. by mid-March.”
In December, when the new variant was first discovered, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio questioned why flights from the United Kingdom were still permitted to land. On Christmas Day, the CDC issued an order “requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test for all air passengers arriving from the United Kingdom.”
Despite Trump calling for “an end to the ban on travelers from Europe and Brazil,” incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded on January 18 that the Biden administration would likely reverse such a decision.
With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel.
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) January 19, 2021
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