The Kent variant of Covid-19 — B.1.1.7 — that swept across the UK last year before spreading worldwide, is associated with a significantly higher mortality rate, suggests a research.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, indicated that the Kent variant is between 30 and 100 per cent more deadly than previous strains.
“In the community, death from Covid-19 is still a rare event, but the B.1.1.7 variant raises the risk. Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly this makes B.1.1.7 a threat that should be taken seriously,” said lead author Robert Challen from the University of Exeter.
The Kent variant, first detected in the UK in September 2020, has been identified as being significantly quicker and easier to spread, and was behind the introduction of new lockdown rules across the UK from January, the researchers said.
For the study, the research team compared death rates among people infected with the new variant and those infected with other strains.
The study showed that the new variant led to 227 deaths in a sample of 54,906 patients — compared to 141 amongst the same number of closely matched patients who had the previous strains.
With the new variant already detected in more than 50 countries worldwide, the analysis provides crucial information to governments and health officials to help prevent its spread, the researchers said.
The study shows that the higher transmissibility of the Kent strain meant that more people who would have previously been considered low risk were hospitalised with the newer variant.