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Concerns raised over death rates and vaccine efficacy of new Covid variants

FEARS were raised yesterday over the possibility of increased deaths from the transmission of the UK variant of Covid-19, and the efficacy of vaccines against the South African variant.

There is “some evidence” that the UK variant is linked to “a higher degree of mortality,” PM Boris Johnson said during a Downing Street press conference.

He urged people to “remain vigilant” and for those who have been invited to receive the vaccine to “not hesitate to book that appointment.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has privately warned that “there is evidence in the public domain” that the South African coronavirus variant reduces vaccine efficacy “by about 50 per cent.”

He made the warning in what is reportedly a recording of an online webinar with travel agents this week, obtained by MailOnline.

Mr Hancock said that he is “not sure of this data,” as the variant is currently being tested with vaccines in Porton Down and in South Africa, and this uncertainty is why he “wouldn’t say this in public.”

He admitted that if a new variant “evaded the vaccine, then we’d be back to square one.”

It came as a further 1,401 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, while another 40,261 confirmed cases were reported.

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