On Friday, Niti Aayog member VK Paul warned that India could see up to 14 daily cases if the current prevalence rate in the UK is considered.

Omicron and its explosive spread in South Africa and the UK have sounded alarm bells around the world. Of a total population of 67 million, more than 11 million people have tested positive for the disease and experts expect an “amazing” rise in cases in the next few days.

India has so far only reported 113 cases, but given their highly transmissible nature, the future could bring an unprecedented number of cases making a third wave clear. The latest warning from NITI Aayog has heightened concern from the country and state health authorities.

On Friday, Niti Aayog member VK Paul warned that India could see up to 14 daily cases if the current prevalence rate in the UK is considered. Dr. Ball also added that sequencing the genomes of each sample is not possible and therefore the system is sampled. He noted that it is an “emerging and unexpected scenario” and that the government is watching developments with great interest.

Could Omicron lead to an expected third wave?

Britain announced, on Thursday, that it had recorded the largest number of infections since the beginning of the epidemic, and an increase in ten thousand cases since the previous record set on Wednesday. South Africa, where the variant was first detected, saw 20,000 new cases a day, up from 200 at the start of November. Denmark also recorded the second largest number of cases so far.

Furthermore, concerns about an Omicron strain strong enough to evade the immunity provided by two doses of vaccines have made the World Health Organization stress booster injections even when the initial vaccination does not cover the entire global population. On the flip side, preliminary analysis indicates that the stress may not be as severe as the delta variable and that the devastation will not be as gigantic as we saw in the delta-driven Covid wave.

Omicron status in India

India is in a better position than South Africa in terms of vaccination with 38 percent of people fully vaccinated compared to 26 percent in South Africa. Covid cases in India have also remained below the 10,000 mark for the longest period without any clear sign of a boom.

If mixed immunity, the previous history of infection and a high vaccination rate have something to do with the spread of Omicron, India will experience a third wave, which is much milder than previously thought. However, given its population, if the variant begins to spread as in South Africa, there can be no less than 1 case per day by the fifth week of the surge and up to 8 cases per week in the second month of the surge. According to Manindra Agarwal, an IIT scientist involved in the mathematical projection of the trajectory of Covid cases, the wave led by Omicron is expected to reach its peak in February.

So far there is no clear sign of the unprecedented prevalence of Omicron in India, but given the new variant discovered through laborious genome sequencing, there will always be a gap between the reported cases and the actual situation. In such a situation, it is difficult to know to what extent the new variant has penetrated into the Indian population.

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