The UK coronavirus variant may be more deadly than the original, according to the UK Prime Minister.
Speaking at Downing Street this evening, Boris Johnson said there is “some evidence” that the UK variant may be “associated with a higher degree of mortality.”
He noted that “all current evidence continues to show” that the vaccines approved in the UK remain effective against both the original coronavirus strain and the UK one.
Last night, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned that the UK variant now accounts for around 60% of Ireland’s recent cases.
The UK variant, first identified in Kent, is believed to be between 50% and 70% more transmissible than previous strains and Dr Holohan said its rise in recent weeks is making it harder to suppress the virus.
He was speaking after he announced a further 51 virus-related deaths and 2,608 new cases.
Earlier he warned the Government that there could be as many as 1,000 deaths this month.
In a letter to the Health Minister, he said the January death toll was likely to be between 500 and 1,000.
As of last night, 532 had been recorded this month already.
Dr Holohan said even “optimistic projections” suggest the country will be recording between 800 and 1,6000 cases a day by the end of January.