Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently allow vaccination for younger people as 81 per cent of Covid samples in the state showed infection by the UK variant of the virus. The B117 — an extremely virulent form of the virus — is largely affecting younger people and the UK authorities have found that the Covishield vaccine is effective against it, the Chief Minister has said.
Genome sequencing was done on 401 samples from Punjab recently and the results showed 81 per cent samples were of the B117 virus, which started spreading in the UK since November.
Now it comprises 98 per cent of the new cases in the UK and 90 per cent in Spain. The authorities in the UK said the mutant strain is upto 70 per cent more infectious than the virus that came from China’s Wuhan.
Over the last few weeks, coronavirus numbers have been shooting up in the state, reflecting a similar trend in at least seven other states. It is suspected that the resurgence of the virus — which is identified as the emergent second wave of Covid in the country — was triggered by mutant forms of the virus.
As of 18 March, the total number of infections with UK, Brazil and South Africa variants in the country stood at 400, shows data from the Union Health Ministry.
“Expressing concern over the emerging situation, the Chief Minister stressed the need for the central government to urgently open up the vaccination for a bigger section of the populace… It was essential to vaccinate more and more people to break the chain of transmission,” read a statement from the Chief Minister’s office.
With a large section of its population being people who returned from abroad after the outbreak of the pandemic, the Punjab government has been extra vigilant in tracking the virus in the state.
Over the last 24 hours, the state has seen 2,299 fresh cases, 58 people have died.