Scientists with the British government on Friday concluded that it “is likely that infection” with the B.1.1.7 variant “is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization and death compared” with other viruses.
However, the scientists noted several limitations within their assessment, including that the number of deaths are “too low for reliable interference,” and that the consensus of the findings was not unanimous. They also noted that poor reporting on long-term care facility and nursing home residents may have inhibited thorough analysis.
Based on multiple databases throughout the U.K., the scientists did say that the variant is likely 30% to 70% more deadly than the original strain. They had previously concluded that the variant was believed to be up to 70% more transmissible, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month tweeting that it “may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality.”
The new follow-up study, which assessed a larger sample size of COVID-19 patients, appeared to confirm those beliefs.
“There is evidence from analysis of multiple different datasets that infection with VOC B1.1.7 is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization [sic] and death compared to infection with” other forms of the virus, the authors concluded.
The highly transmissible form of the virus has spread to more than 80 countries, including the U.S., according to reports.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that more than 50 cases of the mutated coronavirus strain have been identified across the U.S.
That figure has since exceeded 70 cases and experts have cautioned how the variant is likely already widespread across the country.
“These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19,” according to the CDC. “An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.”
Experts believe existing coronavirus vaccines will work against the variant — although further studies are working to confirm that assumption, the CDC added.
In the meantime, “rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies, such as vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, is essential to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and protect public health,” the agency continued.
Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report