The new strain of the COVID-19 virus, first identified in the United Kingdom, is likely to be associated with increased hospitalization and higher mortality rates, British scientists have reported.
The earlier hypothesis that the new variant is not only highly infectious but also more lethal, leading to increased deaths in the region, was endorsed by British government scientists in a new report.
Scientists have previously said there is a “realistic possibility” that the new version could lead to increased deaths, now they say it is “likely” that more deaths are caused than all other previous virus mutations.
The new results are yet to be officially released by the British government, but the document was posted on its website on February 12. The document entitled “NERVTAG: Update note on B.1.1.7 severity, 11 February 2021” suggests that there is evidence to suggest that the latest version B.1.1.7 induces an increased severity of the disease in people relative to those infected with other variants.
“There is evidence from analysis of multiple different datasets that infection with VOC B1.1.7 is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation and death compared to infection with non-VOC viruses,” the document said.
The explanation for increased hospitalization and deaths was not explained in the study, but scientists believe that the new version could have higher viral loads, which may be the cause because it makes the strain more infectious and more difficult to treat.
COVID-19 situation in the UK
At the moment, the UK is seeing a second wave, which is possibly being driven by the new COVID-19 virus strain. On February 12, the UK reported more than 14,000 new cases and over 750 new deaths. From registering an average of over 50,000 new cases to 15,000 cases a day, the UK has hit its height. The rate of infection, however, is still high relative to some of the other nations in the list of the most affected nations.