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Britain says new COVID-19 variant may carry higher risk of death

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the new English variant of COVID-19 may be associated with a higher level of mortality, though he said evidence showed that both vaccines being used in the country were effective against it.

Johnson and his top advisers spoke at a news conference:

PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON

“We have been informed today, 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 South East – may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”

CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER, PATRICK VALLANCE

“When we look at data from hospitals – so patients who are in hospital with the virus – the outcomes for those with the original virus or the new variant look the same. So there’s no real evidence of an increase in mortality for those in hospitals.

“However, when data are looked at in terms of those who’ve been tested positive – so anyone who’s tested positive – there is evidence that there’s an increased risk for those who have the new variant compared to the old virus.

“Now that evidence is not yet strong – it’s a series of different bits of information that come together to support that.”

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