Deadliest British variant, Boris Johnson warns

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. – Heathcliff O’Malley/AP/SIPA

The variant of the new coronavirus detected in Great Britain and already present in about sixty others seemed to be not only more contagious, but also more deadly, announced the British Prime Minister on Friday, confirming the worst fears.

This variant, which is transmitted 30 to 70% more easily, is believed to be responsible for the severity of the second wave of the new coronavirus which is currently hitting the United Kingdom.

A risk of mortality 13 to 14 in 1,000

“It also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant, the variant that was first identified in London, and in the south-east (of England), may be related to a higher degree mortality, ”Boris Johnson said at a press conference in Downing Street. For men in their sixties, the risk of mortality reaches 13 to 14 in 1,000 with the new variant, against 10 in 1,000 with the previous form of the virus, compared the government’s scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.

“I want to stress that there is a lot of uncertainty around these figures”, qualified Patrick Vallance, but there is a “concern that there has been an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility ”. Studies are underway around the world to determine the reasons for this increased contagiousness. Other variants, including one initially detected in South Africa, are also worrying the international community. “They have certain characteristics that make them less sensitive to vaccines” and are “more worrying” than the British variant, said Patrick Vallance.

Hospitals under pressure

The most bereaved country in Europe by the pandemic with nearly 96,000 dead (+ 1,401 in the last 24 hours), the United Kingdom has reconfigured for the third time to try to stem a new wave of the epidemic, attributed to this much more contagious variant. A mass vaccination campaign was launched, and 5.4 million people received a first dose of the vaccine, of which 400,000 were vaccinated in the last 24 hours, a record.

The effects of containment appear to be being felt as the number of cases decreases and the rate of reproduction of the virus – the R rate – is also declining. Scientists advising the government put the rate between 0.8 and 1. Last week, it was between 1.2 and 1.3. According to the National Statistics Office, the ONS, one in 55 people in England had Covid-19 between January 10 and 16, down from the estimate of one in 50 infected people between December 27 and January 2. Hospitals are however under pressure, with 38,562 hospitalized Covid-19 patients, a figure 78% higher than during the first peak in April, said Boris Johnson.

Hardened sanctions

In light of these elements, the government repeated its instructions to the British, and launched a new campaign on Friday evening to implore them to stay at home. Playing on a sensitive chord, this campaign brings together caregivers on the front line facing the virus and patients stricken by the disease. “Can you look them in the eye and tell them you’re helping them by staying home?” », Asks the advertisement, which will be broadcast on television, radio and social networks.

This campaign encourages people to go to the supermarket as little as possible and to avoid public transport. It is recommended that you wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands. The government has also tightened sanctions against containment violators. Police disrupted a wedding of some 400 guests at a school in London on Thursday evening, fining attendees.

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