A study at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that a new coronavirus mutation spreading in the UK is 50% more contagious, less than the number floated by the government when it imposed harsh blockades last week, but still enough to dramatically worsen suggest that a coronavirus epidemic has broken out in the country.
The study (which has not been reviewed) suggests that the new variant of coronavirus is about 56% more transmissible than previously existing strains.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it may have been as much as 70% more contagious when he used the strain as a factor in putting London and much of southern England under new coronavirus restrictions.
Although scientists believe strain transmission is not quite as high, they note that the mutation is likely to cause far more hospitalizations and deaths next year than the country saw in 2020.
However, researchers say there is still no evidence to suggest that the new strain is more dangerous, deadly or more resistant to coronavirus vaccines.
Scientists behind the study said the regional blockades carried out by the UK are unlikely to stop the spread of the virus enough to meet government targets unless schools and universities are also closed.
A new, more contagious strain of coronavirus is said to be a major factor in the rise in new cases and deaths attributed to the virus in the UK this week. On Wednesday, the country reported nearly 40,000 new daily coronavirus cases, the highest number recorded in the entire pandemic, along with the highest number of deaths recorded in a single 24-hour period since late April. Dozens of countries have banned travelers from Britain in response to a new strain of coronavirus. In total, the United Kingdom counted 2.1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and almost 70,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University, which makes it one of the pandemics of the most populous countries in Europe.
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