Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, commenting on the news that the new UK Covid variant is potentially more deadly, said: "This is deeply alarming news, not least because Boris Johnson assured the nation back in December there was no evidence the variant was more risky".
"If you took ... a man in their 60s, the average risk is that for 1,000 people who got infected, roughly 10 would be expected to unfortunately die with the virus".
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an unsettling announcement on Friday about B 1.1.7, the variant of the coronavirus first found in the UK last fall that's become widespread in the country and elsewhere.
It was not unexpected for the new variants to appear after a year of Covid-19 as levels of global immunity increase through vaccinations and natural infection, she added.
The first of the new adverts, aired on ITV and Channel 4, features COVID-19 patients and the staff looking after them at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital. "This is a risk for certain age groups and that risk may have increased but for most people it is still not a serious disease". He said it appears to be between 30% and 70% more transmissible.
"By a process of relatively simple maths, you can think that if a vaccine is more than 50% effective, if you double the number of people who are vaccinated over this very risky period when there is a lot of virus circulating, you are overall going to get some substantial benefit".
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Addressing the media at a Downing Street news conference, Johnson said - "There is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality". I know that might sound obvious, but you'll have more cases, you'll have more hospitalisations, and you'll have...an overburdened healthcare system.
France's Academy of Medicine says that the South African variant "could result from a viral replication more intense and prolonged in people living with HIV" - cases of which are highly prevalent there.
The latest 24-hour figures show a further 1,401 people have died, bringing the official United Kingdom total to 95,981.
"We urge ministers to go further and faster on vaccination roll-out now to save lives, and introduce proper financial support for those needing to isolate to help breaks chains of transmission".
The country is now in a lockdown in an attempt to slow the latest surge of the coronavirus outbreak. The new variant has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations and is now the most common form of the coronavirus in England and Northern Ireland.
"We will have to live with coronavirus in one way or another for a long while to come", he said, adding that "it's an open question" when measures could be eased.
Wendy Barclay, a virologist at London's Imperial College, said mutations were, among others, "a combination of how much virus is out there, the number of times you roll the dice defines what happens, coupled with the environment the virus is now in". "It's going to be around, probably, forever".