The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with officials in the United Kingdom to review recent data suggesting there is “a realistic possibility” that the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant is not only more contagious but deadlier.
In a paper released Friday by Britain’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, scientists said “some preliminary analyses have been undertaken which show that there may be an increase in the severity of disease associated with this new variant, B.1.1.7.”
The group noted that rates of death per infection remain low, and that the new data is based on a “relatively small number of people” from “a small number of settings.”
“More data is being collected and the position will become clearer over the coming weeks,” the group wrote.
But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted Friday that, “We have now learned that, in addition to spreading more quickly, the new variant of the virus may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality. It is therefore more important than ever that we all follow the rules and stay at home, protect the (National Health Service) and save lives.”