Why the new coronavirus strain is so dangerous, in 1 chart

Kathryn Krawczyk
·2 min read

The last thing the COVID-19 pandemic needed was a way for the virus to spread more easily.

But that's just what's emerging in the U.K. and South Africa, where a new, more transmissible variant of the coronavirus has emerged. And when The New York Times compared those countries to others where the strain has only spread more recently, it's clear there's reason for concern.

(The New York Times)

The strain, which has only been recorded a few times in the U.S. but could be spreading far more rampantly, is seemingly 10 to 60 percent more transmissible than the original strain, the Times reports. And as the U.S. already struggles to contain a less contagious virus, The Atlantic's Zeynep Tufekci deemed the new strain a "potential catastrophe in and of itself." While it so far doesn't seem that the variant is more deadly than the already-widespread coronavirus swirling in America, its "transmissibility subjects us to a more contagious virus spreading with exponential growth," Tufekci writes.

"Take a virus reproduction rate of about 1.1 and an infection fatality risk of 0.8 percent and imagine 10,000 active infections — a plausible scenario for many European cities," Tufekci relays from a study from Adam Kucharski, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. With those numbers, "we'd expect 129 deaths in a month," Tufecki writes. But while a 50 percent fatality rate increase would lead to 193 deaths in one month, a 50 percent transmissibility rate increase would amount to 973 deaths. Read more at The Atlantic.

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