Thursday, Jun 30, 2022 11:15 [IST]
Last Update: Thursday, Jun 30, 2022 05:48 [IST]
We may be able to finally breathe easy. And take things easy on the coronavirus front. The numbers, in recent times, may have been showing some signs of picking up after a good period of slump earlier part of this year, but it may not be of the severity we have been anticipating.
Threat of large, severe waves of Covid-19 is low in India notwithstanding recent upticks in various parts of the country, public health experts have said. However, it is premature to declare India is in an endemic state, they warn. Endemicity requires that the virus stay with us, and that its behaviour is predictable even if there are periodic outbreaks. For Covid-19, the first is true, but the second is not yet certain. Given the unpredictable nature of virus evolution, it is premature to declare that we are in a steady endemic state. We are heading in that direction but have not yet landed on the smooth runway of that airport. With cases increasing constantly every few months and in the absence of data on what amounts to constant presence, we cannot call it endemic. Also, currently, the infections are rising in many countries and are even leading to increased hospitalisations. This is not the time to call it endemic.
What we’re seeing is what the world is seeing: An increase in cases associated with the more transmissible variant BA.5, against which prior immunity from infection or from vaccination is substantially weakened. On the plus side, these increased infections don't seem to be leading to pressures on the healthcare system because this variant is now encountering a population which has already seen several different variants of the virus earlier. It is likely that given what we’ve seen, we will see ups and downs in infection numbers in the future, which will hopefully not translate into severe disease except in highly vulnerable populations, much like seasonal influenza. It is unlikely that we will see any sharp increase in severe cases in the near future.
But let us not celebrate right away. Although the number of Covid cases in the country is witnessing ups and downs, experts believe that the daily infection figure could be much higher than reported. Health experts believe that investigations are happening at home, people are conducting self-tests with new kits. The vaccination coverage has been good.We are yet to reach endemic stage. The virus has mutated several times in ways that could not have been anticipated. We are still not in the final end-game where we can say that the options for surprises have been exhausted.