Vaccines may seem like the final chapter of the pandemic but new research suggests it’s too early to return to normality. The Kent strain – the dominant strain circulating in the UK – is twice as deadly as other strains, new research suggests. The findings in the British Medical Journal are based on analysis of 110,000 COVID-19 patients.
Lead author Robert Challen, of the University of Exeter said: “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.”
Kent strain – what we know so far
Genetic evidence suggests this variant emerged in September 2020 and then circulated at very low levels in the population until mid-November.
The increase in cases linked to the new variant first came to light in December when Public Health England (PHE) was investigating why infection rates in Kent were not falling despite national restrictions.
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