(WXYZ) — The UK virus variant might now be deadlier than other coronavirus strains. CDC scientists are reviewing new mortality data from UK health officials which indicates that it is more lethal.
In the scientific world, it all boils down to research. Initially, evidence suggested that the death rate for the UK virus variant, officially known as variant B.1.1.7, was not that different. But now, this new report from the United Kingdom’s New and Emerging Respiratory Viruses Advisory Group indicates otherwise. A group of scientists compiled data on patients who had died from COVID-19. And found that a subset of those infected with variant B.1.1.7 passed away at a higher rate compared to other virus strains. Now, this data is preliminary and we really need more research. However, a member of President Joe Biden's coronavirus transition team has reviewed the UK report, and has said that the data is mounting that the variant B.1.1.7 “is causing more severe illness and increased death."
For men in their sixties who get infected and develop COVID-19, about 10 out of every thousand of them are estimated to die. When you compare that with the UK variant B.1.1.7, that estimated number jumps to 13 or 14 people for every thousand that gets sick with COVID-19. And that increase could apply to all age groups. But again, evidence on how this variant works and how deadlier it may be is still emerging. The increase in deaths could boil down to other factors like quality of care, age or underlying health conditions.
Moderna has said that their vaccine protects against both the UK and South Africa virus variants. However, analyzed blood samples suggested that there was a weaker immune response to the South Africa strain. So Moderna is planning a Phase 1 trial that includes a booster candidate. If that is successful, that might mean three shots in total.
My patients have been asking about KF94 masks. The KF94 masks are being called the South Korean equivalent of the N95 mask. The KF stands for Korean Filter. Now the numbers in these names - 95 and 94 - refer to filtration efficiency. So the N95 filters out 95% of particles, and the KF94 filters out 94% of particles. While this sounds great, it does not mean that you need to run out and buy one. For most folks, studies have shown that three-layered cloth masks work very well when it comes to blocking infectious particles. Just please be sure to wear a proper mask when you’re not in your own home.
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