Coronavirus is mutating and patients could be dying more quickly than in the first wave, SAGE papers published yesterday show.
The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) said the findings could mean Covid-19 is now becoming more infectious.
But researchers said the UK did not have the capability to study these mutations and understand whether they could be harmful, Mail Online reports.
Scientists at NERVTAG, which works with the Government’s scientific advisory group SAGE, said there is a possibility that these changes could increase the ability of Covid-19 to spread.
The paper says: “In the UK, researchers are currently monitoring whether mutations are occurring, but are not systematically checking whether these mutations ‘matter’. This is an important gap in our knowledge.
“We currently lack the capability in the UK to rapidly and systematically assess the biological significance of detected genetic change.”
According to the data by the COVID-19 Clinical Information Network (CO-CIN), coronavirus patients in the UK are now dying more quickly than in the first phase of the pandemic.
Up until August 1, patients were dying an average of 13 days after symptoms such as a cough, high temperature or loss of smell and taste started.
But since then, the period has dropped to just seven days on average – 7.5 in men and six days in women.
However the drop in time has been explained by the death rate falling – with more patients recovering and therefore fewer dying after lengthy battles with the virus.
The UK has seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
Experts estimate 1 in 130 people in England had the virus in a single week.
The Office for National Statistics estimates between 407,500 and 459,300 people in the community had the virus at any point in the week to October 16.
It comes after the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor warned England could now be seeing 53,000 to 90,000 new coronavirus cases per day.
Speaking at a No10 press conference, Sir Patrick presented the model on new infections per day from SAGE sub-group the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M).
He said: “The modelling consensus suggests that between 53,000 and 90,000 new infections per day may be occurring.
“And obviously with that number of infections, you expect an increase in hospitalisations as well.
“The number of infections overall across the country continues to increase.”
The total number of coronavirus cases confirmed in the UK is 830,998.
According to the latest data, 44,571 people have died after contracting the virus.