Implications of the UK coronavirus variant for the Netherlands

Viruses mutate all the time, which can cause them to behave differently. At the end of 2020, UK scientists discovered a variant of coronavirus that is much more contagious than the variants we’ve encountered so far. While the original virus is now infecting fewer people, the number of people infected with the UK variant is growing. What are the implications for the Netherlands?

30% to 50% more contagious

There are thousands of variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The most contagious variant will ultimately gain the overhand. The UK variant’s reproduction number (R number) is estimated to be 30% to 50% higher than the R number of the original virus. RIVM predicts that the UK variant will be the most prevalent in the Netherlands by February 2021.

More total cases, but not more severe cases

The UK variant does not make people more seriously ill. The main threat is that a greater number of people will become ill. This means that more people will end up in hospital, putting pressure on healthcare services. More people will die, too.


Infection rates can only be reduced by means of vaccinations and measures to control the spread of the virus. This applies to every variant of coronavirus. The RIVM has calculated the effects of various measures. Strict measures have applied since the start of the lockdown on 14 December 2020, but extra measures are needed to contain the UK variant. For this reason, a curfew came into force on 23 January.


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