Share article:
Share article:

Coronavirus: UK variant linked to higher death rate

© Belga

In addition to being more contagious, the UK variant of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) seems more deadly, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday.

“It … now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant — the variant that was first discovered in London and the southeast (of England) — may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson said at a news conference at Downing Street.

According to the UK Government’s scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, the mortality risk for men above the age of 60 is 10 for every 1,000 cases, but with the new strain, 13 to 14 out of every 1,000 infected men over 60 might be expected to die.

While noting that there was great uncertainty surrounding these figures, Mr. Vallance stressed that there was concern that increased mortality and transmissibility may be associated with the new strain.

The British variant continues to spread around the world and is now present in at least 60 countries and territories.

The United Kingdom has the highest COVID-19 mortality in Europe, registering close to 96,000 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic, including about 1,401 in the last 24 hours. It is now under lockdown for the third time as it tries to curb a new surge in infections, blamed on the new variant.

A massive vaccination campaign has been launched, with 5.4 million people receiving a first dose of the vaccine, a record 400,000 of them in the previous 24 hours.

The lockdown seems to have had some effect since the number of cases has been decreasing as has the reproduction rate of the virus. Scientists advising the UK Government now estimate that the reproduction rate is between 0.8 and 1, down from last week’s rate of 1.2 to 1.3.

According to the Office for National Statistics, one in 55 persons in England had COVID-19 between 10 and 16 January. The estimate was higher – 1 in 50 – between 27 December and 2 January.

However, hospitals are under pressure, with some 38,562 COVID-19 patients hospitalised, 78% more than during the first peak in April, Boris Johnson said.

These developments have led the UK Government to repeat its appeals to the public to remain at home as much as possible and comply with anti-COVID measures.

It has also toughened sanctions against lockdown violators: on Thursday evening, police broke up a wedding with about 400 invitees that was being held in a London school.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...