British scientists are warning that the new coronavirus strain that was first reported in the United Kingdom in November 2020 appears to be substantially more lethal than the original virus than initially thought.
According to Business Insider, experts found in a new assessment that the fatality rates for the mutant variant ranged between 30 and 70 percent deadlier than the first iteration of the disease. It had previously not been known whether or not the U.K. version of the coronavirus was more lethal; however, it had long been believed that it was more contagious, sparking fears of a higher death toll because of its ability to spread throughout the public.
The 30 percent fatality rate was determined in a study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Researchers looked into the deaths of 2,583 people over the month of January. Of that number, 384 people appeared to be infected with the U.K. COVID-19 virus and died at a rate 35 percent higher than other coronavirus patients, per The Chicago Tribune.
However, an updated version of the study suggested a flaw in the initial calculations. In this data set, 1,722 people with the variant disease died out of 3,382 total fatalities. This would mean that the strain is 71 percent more lethal.
"There are potential limitations in all datasets used but together these analyses indicate that it is likely that B.1.1.7 is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization and death compared to infection with non-B.1.1.7 viruses," the authors concluded, per Forbes.
That said, there are outlier studies that have suggested that there is no increase in the fatality rate from the new strain. The contradictory research has only added to the confusion and mystery that has often plagued scientists throughout the pandemic.
However, health experts have argued that whether or not the mutant virus is deadlier should have little effect on public policy -- and specifically the primary goal of vaccinating as much of the population across the globe as possible.
"It has not been definitely established that the 1.1.7 variant is more lethal but even the hint of this being the case should redouble the efforts to accelerate vaccinations to keep pace with the more transmissible variant's spread," noted Amesh Adalja, an Infectious Disease physician and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health.
"Getting vaccinated as soon as you can, will reduce the risk of more transmissible and possibly more virulent variants gaining traction," Georgetown virologist Angela Rasmussen added.
As covered by The Inquisitr, a leading scientist has expressed his belief that the U.K. variant will become the dominant strain in the world at large as the pandemic continues.