Why Omicron is likely to affect major Indian cities, ex-CSIR scientist explains

Published on Dec 05, 2021 09:56 AM IST

Out of the four confirmed Omicron cases in India, three are from outside, indicating that foreign travellers, who transit through major cities, are the source of the Omicron variant in India. 

People wait to receive a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine amid concern over the Omicron variant, in Navi Mumbai.(PTI)
People wait to receive a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine amid concern over the Omicron variant, in Navi Mumbai.(PTI)
By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

Omicron, the new variant of Covid, will primarily affect the major cities in India because people are travelling, director of Tata Institute for Genetics and Society and former Chief of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre For Cellular And Molecular Biology, Dr Rakesh Mishra, told news agency ANI in an exclusive interview.

Dr Mishra said vaccines, including Indian vaccines, will remain effective against this variant, but the concern is the high rate of spreading. Since most Omicron cases are asymptomatic, there is a fear that the variant will be spreading faster than Delta as people will ignore this as a common cold.

India detects third Omicron case. What we know so far

"We have detected two and a few more and all that in the past few days, but how many are we sequencing? If we sequence 100 per cent, then you can be sure that how many people have this or not. Since we cannot sequence all, we can't even list all. Many people are believed to be asymptomatic and spreading. So that is the problem of this infection that most people 70-80 per cent will not have any symptoms when there is spreading and confusion with the common cold. Symptoms are less severe. So people will mistake it as a common cold because there is no smell loss or oxygen problem. The infection will be there in all major cities where people have been travelling…" he told ANI.

India has four confirmed cases of the Omicron variant so far. Out of these cases, three have come from outside. The first Omicron case was a 66-year-old South African national who has left India after testing Covid negative. A 72-year-old NRI who has been living in Zimbabwe for many years and has now come to Gujarat's Jamnagar to meet his father-in-law has tested positive for Omicron. The 33-year-old unvaccinated marine engineer has also come from South Africa. Only the 46-year-old Bengaluru doctor, the second Omicron case of India, did not have any travel history.

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