New UK corona variant found in 81% cases in Punjab; CM urges Centre to widen jab net 

CM Amarinder Singh has urged central government to expedite inoculation, widen vaccination ambit to cover those below 60 as new variant found to be attacking younger population

New UK corona variant found in 81% cases in Punjab; CM urges Centre to widen jab net 
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Bipin Bhardwaj

New UK coronavirus variant found in 81% cases in Punjab

CM Amarinder Singh has urged central government to widen vaccination ambit to cover those below 60 as new variant found to be attacking younger population

Bipin Bhardwaj

The new variant of the coronavirus has hit Punjab hard thus sending the state machinery in a tizzy. As many as 81 per cent of the latest 401 samples sent by the state government for genome sequencing have turned out positive for the new UK coronavirus variant. More surprising is that the new variant has been found targeting the young population more.

Taking a serious note of the situation, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Tuesday appealed to the people to get themselves vaccinated, besides urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to widen the vaccination ambit to cover those younger than 60 years of age since this mutant has been found to be infecting young people more.

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.

The process needs to be expedited, he said, pointing to the fact that experts had found the existing Covishield vaccine to be equally effective against the UK variant (B.1.1.7). It was essential to vaccinate more and more people to break the chain of transmission, he added.


Amarinder Singh also urged the people to strictly adhere to all Covid safety protocols, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. The state government, which has already announced fresh restrictions, would be forced to impose more curbs if the people do not follow the Covid appropriate behaviour, he warned.

The Chief Minister made the appeal after the state’s Covid expert committee head, Dr K.K. Talwar, apprised him of the developments on the new variant in the state, which has been witnessing a surge in the number of COVID-19 positive cases during the last few weeks.

The state health department had sent 478 COVID positive samples to NIB, IGIB, and NCDC for genome sequencing, of which results of 90 samples were received and those showed only two samples for the N440K variant.

Subsequently, a team from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare visited the state to review the increase in positivity. The team was informed about the pending results of genome sequencing. Thereafter, 401 more samples were sent to NCDC for genome sequencing. The result of these samples was worrying as it showed presence of B.1.1.7 variant in 326 COVID samples, said Dr Talwar.

The Chief Minister said he had been informed by Dr Talwar that though this UK variant is more infectious but not more potent. Further, the Oxford-AstraZeneca (Covishield) vaccine is equally effective against this variant.

The B.1.1.7 variant is now spreading rapidly in many parts of the world, representing 98 per cent of the new cases in the UK and 90 per cent in Spain. UK authorities have suggested it is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus.

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