THE new Covid-19 variant that has ripped through the South East is 70 per cent more contagious than the original strain, Boris Johnson revealed today.
The PM today revealed the “frighteningly transmissable” new variant was spreading rapidly – forcing him to put millions of Brits in Tier 4 lockdown for Christmas.
Boris today said that the new strain meant that the R rate could be increased by 0.4 as he revealed the festive season was cancelled.
Speaking at a press conference today, the PM said the strain was “spreading very fast”. He said: “There’s still much we don’t know but it is spreading more quickly.
“There is no evidence however to suggest that it’s more lethal or causes more severe illness. “Equally, there is no evidence to suggest the vaccine will be any less effective.”
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, today said the UK has informed the World Health Organisation that the new variant coronavirus can spread more rapidly.
He said: “There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is under way to confirm this.
“Given this latest development, it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission. A Health source said: “The last 48 hours have changed everything.”
It is also feared to have first emerged in London and the South East as early as September, Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance said at today’s Downing Street briefing.
The strain – called VUI202012/01 – has caused cases to double in a week in the capital as it buckles under the new variant.