boris johnson press conference
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Boris Johnson briefing: PM reveals new variant ‘may be’ more deadly than original virus

It spreads more easily, too

Boris Johnson has addressed the nation in a Downing Street press briefing tonight (January 22).

The press conference made for grim viewing on the day it was revealed the coronavirus death toll has risen by 1,401.

Some 40,261 were confirmed.

He also spent time detailing how the vaccination rollout is going.

boris johnson briefing
Boris Johnson addressed the nation in a briefing today (Credit: Sky News)

What did Boris Johnson say in his briefing?

The Prime Minister spoke about the new coronavirus variant.

He revealed that the new strain – which was discovered in Kent – is thought to be more deadly than the original virus.

“In addition to spreading more quickly, there is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” he said.

Read more: Filming on Emmerdale and Corrie suspended due to pandemic

“It’s largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure.”

In addition to spreading more quickly, there is some evidence that the new variant may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.

Boris added: “So it’s more important than ever that we all remain vigilant in following the rules.”

The science behind the announcement

Reports earlier today claimed that Government advisors revealed it is likely to cause 30% more deaths.

During the briefing it was revealed the Kent strain spreads 30-70% more easily than the old variant.

There’s no preferential age that it targets – much like the original virus.

However, looking at early data of people who have tested positive, it looks as if there is an increased mortality rate for those with the new variant.

Research is ongoing, Sir Patrick Vallance added.

COVID vaccine for all adults by autumn
Some 5.4 million people in the UK have received the vaccine (Credit: Pexels)

Vaccination update

Boris also offered an update on the vaccination rollout – and tried to put some fears at ease.

He said: “All current evidence that both the vaccines we are currently using remain effective both against the old variant and this new variant.”

He revealed that 5.4 million people across the UK have now received their vaccine.

In England, one in 10 adults have now received their first vaccination.

When will lockdown end?

Earlier today. ED! reported that ministers refused to rule out keeping lockdown restrictions in place until “early summer”.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, George Eustice claimed life can return “closer to normal” in “late spring, early summer”.

Read more: Critics claim Government plans to give £500 to people with COVID ‘incentivise catching it’

Meanwhile, a Downing Street source revealed: “This has been a very bleak week. We need everybody to keep sticking to the rules and helping to protect hospitals, which are under the most tremendous pressure

“We aren’t yet seeing the sharp fall in infections that we had last April and May and we need to keep going.”

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