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Newark and Sherwood: Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warns new covid variant may kill one in three infected people

A new coronavirus variant that may kill one in three infected people is a realistic possibility, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has warned.

Government scientific advisers have said there is a real possibility the covid new variant has a similar death rate to MERS, which kills one in three people who have contracted it.

In a published paper, scientists outlined the chances a new variant would evade current vaccines, reports Sky News.

Test and trace app. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Test and trace app. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The SAGE document looked at the long-term evolution of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19.

It said the eradication of the virus would be unlikely and that the scientists had high confidence in stating that there would always be variants.

However, the experts have also said the virus could result in much less severe disease in older people and those who are clinically vulnerable in the long term.


They considered a scenario where a variant causes severe disease in a greater proportion of the population than has previously occurred, with similar death rates to other coronaviruses SARS (10%) or MERS (35%).

They said this could be caused by a 'recombination' between two variants of concern or variants under investigation, such as between beta and alpha or delta variants.

SAGE warned the likelihood of a more severe variant under these circumstances was a realistic possibility and set out measures the government should take to combat this. They said this could include minimising the introduction of new variants from other territories (to reduce risk of recombination between variants).

Clinical epidemiologist Dr Deepti Gurdasani said the SAGE paper was a stark warning.


Writing on Twitter, she said: "Given the impact Delta has already had, and in light of recent evidence from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), we cannot afford any more new variants emerging — we need to take preventive action now."

She added the paper made clear that the virus becoming less virulent was unlikely in the short term.

"So for all those who suggest that we should live with it, and it'll become like seasonal coronaviruses and benign, doesn't look like that's likely to happen any time soon," Dr Gurdasani wrote.

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