İrem UZUN -TDO- The new COVID-19 variant first detected in the UK may be more lethal than previous strains, according to the country's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "We've been informed that in addition to spreading more quickly... there is some evidence that the new variant... may be more associated with a higher degree of mortality," Johnson said at a news conference on Friday.

The data comes from mathematicians comparing death rates in people infected with either the new or the old versions of the virus. Public Health England, Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Exeter have each been trying to assess how deadly the new variant is. Their evidence has been assessed by scientists on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group. The group concluded there was a "realistic possibility" that the virus had become more deadly, but this is far from certain.

While the new strain might be more deadly, the PM said that evidence "continues to show that both the vaccines we're using remain effective both against the old variant and this new variant". However, with regards to new strains in South Africa and Brazil, UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick said they might "have certain features which means they might be less susceptible to vaccines".

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