In a hastily called Saturday press conference, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new variant of the coronavirus appears to spread more easily, and may be up to 70% more transmissible than the earlier, more dominant type.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the new variant is responsible for 60% of infections in London, which have nearly doubled in the last week.
As with other new variants of Covid-19, this one carries a genetic fingerprint making it easy to track, and it happens to be one that is now common. That does not mean the mutation has made it spread more easily, nor does it not necessarily mean this variation is more dangerous.
Multiple experts in the genetics and epidemiology of viruses are noting that this one could be just a “lucky” variation that’s been amplified because of a super spreader event; it could be the mutation somehow makes it spread more easily without causing more serious illness; or it could just be by chance.