UK coronavirus variant carries higher death risk

The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom (UK) is deadlier than earlier variants, a new study confirms.

Researchers tracked roughly one million individuals tested for COVID-19 from November to January in community settings, including about 3,000 who ultimately died from it.

After accounting for other factors that affect coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outcomes, patients with the new variant had a roughly 35% higher risk of death, they reported on Wednesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

Among male patients ages 55-69, around 1-in-180 died after becoming infected with older versions of the virus. With the new variant “that’s gone up to around … 1-in-140,” said co-author Nicholas Davies of the London School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

The absolute risk of death remains low under age 54, his team said.

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For women ages 70-84, the risk of death within 28 days went from 2.9% with the original variant to 3.7% with the new UK variant, and for those age 85 and older it went from 12.8% to 16.4%. For males ages 70-84, the mortality rate rose from 4.7% to 6.1% and for older males from 17.1% to 21.7%.

The researchers did not have data on people who were diagnosed in hospitals or on infected people who were never tested. Mr. Davies said his team is updating its analysis with more data, “and it looks like the increase in mortality may well be higher than 35%.” — Reuters

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