Sequencing, sampling of new strain under way
After Delta wild, another new coronavirus variant has been reported in Punjab.
In a press conference on Friday, Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said that cases of the Epsilon variant have been reported in the province. "We have started conducting sample tests and sequencing to find out more about it."
The new strain was first reported in California in 2020 and was declared a Variant of Concern by the US Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) after it observed a spike in its cases.
Studies reveal it is 20% more transmissible than other coronavirus variants. In June, about 1% of the total Covid-19 cases in the US were from the Epsilon variant, The Independent reported. The variant has been reported in at least 34 other countries after it was reported in the US.
Rashid said that more than 70% of cases in Punjab were of the Delta variant. To curb the rising number of cases, the government has begun a door-to-door vaccination campaign in major cities of the province.
On Thursday, a record 500,000 people were vaccinated in Punjab in a day. So far, 11,000 people in the province have lost their lives to the deadly virus.
Vaccines aren’t a perfect defence. Some fully vaccinated people needed hospital treatment and died after catching the variant. This variant’s advantage over the Alpha one is its ability to partially evade the immune system in some people who are already vaccinated.
The guidelines to avoid exposure to the new variant are the same: