An urgent programme of Covid-19 vaccinations in Bedford Borough is needed for all residents aged between 16 and 40 years old as mounting evidence suggests the variant of concern first identified in India is rapidly spreading through its population.
That is according to Bedford Borough Council, which has written to the Chair of the Covid-19 Immunisation, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment to express its 'deep concern' as Covid cases spike in Bedford.
The letter reveals that the Indian variant of concern may now be the dominant variant in the borough, with 72.7 per cent of sequenced tests being that variant. And it says there have been 23 confirmed cases in schools.
Yesterday saw a further 37 people test positive for the virus in just 24 hours - with a dramatic increase in the number since the Indian covid variant was identified in the town.
And today (May 13), Bedford recorded 36 new case of coronavirus, with a total of 13,795 people now diagnosed with the virus, according to the latest figures from Public Health England.
According to the latest Bedford Borough snapshot, the Covid-19 case rate per 100,000 people in the population in Bedford Borough has more than doubled to 84.3 from 39.8 in just one week and the rise in cases is mostly among people aged under 40.
The highest increase is among those aged 11 to 22.
Working with Public Health England and the DHSC, the Council has arranged targeted testing of around 300 close contacts and affected educational settings to identify any further Covid-19 positive cases, ensure people know to self-isolate and help slow the spread.
With cases rapidly rising and further restrictions being lifted next week, the Council is calling on the government to vaccinate over 16s to reduce the spread of the virus and protect local residents.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said “Cllr Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Public Health and I have written a joint letter to the Chair of the Covid-19 Immunisation, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment expressing our deep concern about the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases locally.
“We need a vaccination programme to be rolled out for all residents aged 16 and over in the Borough to protect our residents, especially in light of some lockdown restrictions being lifted from Monday 17th May. We also consider it vital that a vaccine for children under 16 should be licenced as soon as possible.”
The letter said: "We think it is imperative to immediately implement a vaccination programme for all residents aged 16 - 40 years old in the Borough, many of whom live in multi-generational households. We also consider it vital that a vaccine for children under 16 should be developed and licenced as soon as possible.
"We therefore request that Bedford Borough is prioritised for the roll out of further Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations to protect our residents, especially in light of some lockdown restrictions being lifted from Monday 17th May."