British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says there is now evidence to suggest the new coronavirus variant first detected in the UK is not only more contagious but more deadly as well. The mutation has now spread to more than 60 countries. And Britain itself is struggling to bring infections under control.
It's a relentless nightmare for healthcare workers across the UK. The shifts are physically and emotionally grueling. Countless lives cannot be saved.
Many more people have been hospitalized than during the first peak last April - and a coronavirus variant known as B117 is playing a significant role in the suffering.
Scientists say it's almost certainly more infectious.
And now government health advisers believe it could be more deadly, though they caution the assessment's based on sparse data.
The UK has one of the highest death rates from COVID in the world. Almost 100,000 people have lost their lives - with ethnic minorities disproportionately affected.
Those groups are also more likely to refuse vaccinations when offered them - so authorities are trying to tackle mistrust and disinformation. Mosques have joined the campaign to persuade skeptical Muslims.
The UK has been making good progress with inoculations - administering jabs to a larger percentage of its population than any other European country. But the government says restrictions won't be eased until infections have dropped and it's sure the vaccination program is working.
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