'India won't see a new devastating wave of Covid-19 unless…': Experts
Experts have said that it is unlikely that India will witness a new devastating wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic like the second one unless there is a new immune escaping variant, news agency PTI reported on Friday. However, the experts said that the lower number of infections in the country doesn't exactly mean that Covid-19 is reaching the endemic stage.
Till now, India has reported 34,159,562 cases, 453,708 deaths and 33,532,126 due to Covid-19. On Saturday, the daily tally saw a marginal increase with 16,326 new cases. For the last 29 days, the new cases have been below the 30,000-mark.
Cautioning about the festive season with just a few days left for Diwali, the experts said a downward Covid-19 graph is only part of the picture and pointed towards other factors including the mortality rate, larger vaccination coverage and worsening pandemic situation in countries like the United Kingdom (UK).
In the UK, infections are constantly rising, prompting a need to bring back restrictions. However, the Boris Johnson government has said that it is keeping a close check on the crisis and no restrictions will be imposed as of now.
Speaking to PTI, one of India's prominent virologists Shahid Jameel, said that the rate of vaccination has improved but needs to be done. He lauded the landmark achievement of the administration of over a billion vaccine doses in the country on October 21.
“I am not sure we are in an endemic state yet… As we celebrate this (100 crore) landmark, there is still some distance to go. We are going towards endemicity, but are not there yet,” Jameel, who is also a visiting professor at Ashoka University, added.
He highlighted that daily infections in India have been slowly declining over the last three months from about 40,000 per day to about 15,000 per day, adding the mortality rate continues to remain at 1.2%.
Another expert, Murad Banaji, who has been closely monitoring India's Covid graph told the news agency that a lower number of cases for some time “does not necessarily mean endemicity.” "It is possible that endemicity is close in some parts of the country, but the data needed to confirm this is not easily available,” Banaji, who is a senior lecturer in mathematics at UK’s Middlesex University, said.
Epidemiologist Ramanan Laxminaryan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington, said that there can be periodic flare-ups even with an endemic disease as it is being seen in the UK.
Laxminarayan told the news agency that one should wait for another two months before determining whether the virus poses a significant threat to India.
The above experts have said that India will still see local surges in infections, but it is unlikely that there will be a massive surge in infections like the second wave in April this year. However, new variants can pose a challenge, they added.
(With PTI inputs)