New COVID-19 strain spreads more quickly, UK medical chief says

FILE PHOTO: This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects), also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab which was isolated from a patient in the U.S. NIAID-RML/Handout via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT

LONDON (Reuters) – A new strain of COVID-19 identified in the United Kingdom can spread more quickly and urgent work is under way to confirm that it does not cause a higher mortality rate, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Saturday.

“As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance,” Whitty said in a statement.

“As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.”

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