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Worries About Increased Deadliness

British public health officials warn that the B.1.1.7 strain of SARS-CoV-2 could be deadlier, the Guardian reports.

Last month, UK health officials announced they identified a new SARS-CoV-2 strain and, since then, an initial study posted as a preprint has suggested that the B.1.1.7 strain might be 56 percent more transmissible. And now, the Guardian reports that an analysis by the UK's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) of four separate studies indicates the B.1.1.7 strain may also increase the death rate by between 30 percent and 40 percent.

"We have been informed today that, 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 southeast — may be associated with a higher degree of mortality," Prime Minister Boris Johnson says, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal adds, though, that the UK government's chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, cautions that the data is early. Further, a separate article in the Guardian notes that it is unclear what might be driving this potential increased mortality.

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