Covid-19 variant discovered in UK linked to significantly higher mortality rate in new study

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • A new Covid-19 variant was discovered last year in Kent, UK
  • A recent study compared the death rate caused by this new variant to that of previous ones
  • Researchers found this new variant to be more deadly than the original

Variant B.1.1.7 (also known as 501Y.V1) of Covid-19, first discovered in the UK, is known to be more infectious than the original one, but a recent study shows that this is not the only reason we should be concerned about it.

The new research shows that this highly infectious variant is also 30 to 100% more deadly than previous variants. 

Establishing mortality of B.1.1.7

Researchers from the UK conducted a matched cohort study involving 54 906 matched pairs of participants who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19 disease) between 1 October 2020 and 29 January 2021. The researchers compared the death rates of those infected with B.1.1.7 to those infected with other variants of the virus.

Results of the study show that in the sample of 54 906 patients, B.1.1.7 led to 227 deaths, compared to older variants that were responsible for 141 deaths in closely matched participants. 

This information is crucial to governments around the world and helps highlight the urgency to curb the spread of the virus, as the variant has already been detected in more than 90 different countries. 

“In the community, death from Covid-19 is still a rare event, but the B.1.1.7 variant raises the risk. Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly, this makes B.1.1.7 a threat that should be taken seriously,” warned lead author of the study, Robert Challen.

The virus mutates and spreads very quickly

The findings also show that given the high rate of transmissibility of B.1.1.7, an increased number of people who were previously deemed low risk had to be hospitalised after being infected. 

Senior author of the study, Leon Danon, said: “We focused our analysis on cases that occurred between November 2020 and January 2021, when both the old variants and the new variant were present in the UK. This meant we were able to maximise the number of 'matches' and reduce the impact of other biases. Subsequent analyses have confirmed our results.

“SARS-CoV-2 appears able to mutate quickly, and there is a real concern that other variants will arise with resistance to rapidly rolled out vaccines. Monitoring for new variants as they arise, measuring their characteristics and acting appropriately needs to be a key part of the public health response in the future.”

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
18% - 199 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
8% - 91 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
67% - 751 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
7% - 78 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.