Boris Johnson has warned that there is evidence to suggest the new variant of Covid -19 – which emerged in the UK in September last year – is more deadly.
Research is still at an early stage, but there is “some evidence” the new variant is associated with “a higher degree of mortality”, the prime minister said this evening (Friday).
In this evening’s Downing Street press conference he said: “I must tell you this afternoon that we’ve been informed today that 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.”
He added that the current level of Covid patients in hospital is now 78% higher than it was at the first peak in April last year.
He added: “It’s more important than ever that we all remain vigilant in following the rules and that we stay at home, protect the NHS and thereby save lives.
“All current evidence continues to show that both the vaccines we’re currently using remain effective both against the old variant and this new variant.”
The prime minister then urged everyone tobe immunised when invited to do so.
He said: “Our immunisation programme continues at an unprecedented rate.
“5.4 million people across the UK have now received their first dose of the vaccine and over the last 24 hours we can report a record 400,000 vaccinations.
“In England, one in 10 of all adults have received their first dose, including 71% of over-80s and two-thirds of elderly care home residents.”
He added: “I say to everyone, when that letter arrives please don’t hesitate to book that appointment and get this life-saving protection because this is the best and fastest way for us all to defeat this virus and get our lives back to normal.”