With 1 Lakh Daily Cases, India Likely To See Third Covid Wave Due To Omicron By February

With 1 Lakh Daily Cases, India Likely To See Third Covid Wave Due To Omicron By February
© Analiza Pathak | India.com News Desk A lab technician (L) works inside a pathological lab equipped to screen Covid-19 coronavirus patients and patients infected with the Omicron variant arriving from listed high risk destinations at a government hospital in Chennai on December 6, 2021. (AFP)

New Delhi: The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has put governments across the world on high alert. With a huge number of mutations in its spike protein, this new variant is said to be more transmissible than the previous strains of COVID-19. On Monday, India registered a sudden rise in the number of patients infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. According to the latest data, the country’s Omicron tally now stands at 23.

With this, the concerns about the possible third wave of COVID-19 in India become stronger since experts had earlier predicted that a new variant in the country can lead to another wave of the infection. Taking to this development, IIT Professor Manindra Agrawal, involved in the mathematical projection of trajectory of COVID-19, said that the third wave of coronavirus could hit the peak by February with cases likely to be reaching up to 1-1.5 lakh in the country. Agarwal however added that it will be milder than the second wave.

“With the new variant, our current forecast is that the country could see the third wave by February but it will be milder than the second wave. So far we have seen that the severity of Omicron is not like the one seen in the Delta variant,” Agarwal told news agency PTI.

He said a close eye is being kept on cases in South Africa where many cases of this variant have been recorded, adding that a fresh set of data on the virus and hospitalisations would help in getting a more solid picture. “It looks like although the new variant has shown high transmissibility, its severity is not like the one seen in the Delta variant,” Agarwal said.

He said as observed during the spread of delta, a mild lockdown (night curfew, restrictions on crowding) can bring down beta substantially. That will significantly reduce the peak value, he added.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) backed Sutra-model had earlier said the third wave of coronavirus could hit the country by October if a new variant, more virulent and transmissible than the Delta, emerges.

However, till November end, there was no new variant. It had then revised its forecast to November.

‘Variant of Concern’

On November 26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the Covid-19 virus variant detected first in South Africa and some other countries as Omicron. The WHO has also classified the Omicron variant as a ‘Variant of Concern’.

Experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics.

While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity. More information is expected in the next two weeks’ time or so, it said.

Multiplying with an intensity of 4 to 16 times

Another expert on the matter from Telangana, State Director of Public Health and Family Welfare Srinivas Rao on Sunday said, “As we have seen in South Africa, the Omicron variant is increasing with an intensity of four to sixteen times within a span of one week to ten days. With this variant, the hospitalization rate and the death rate is low, so that is definitely a big relief but it has a characteristic of spreading fast. Wee should be very careful.”

“From 10 countries, variant spread into 35 countries with 450 or 500 cases, so we have to wait and watch how is the variant is going to behave in coming days,” Rao said, adding, “So with that assumption and epidemiological perspective, we are expecting a bit of surge in January or February in our country and state.”

Omicron in India

India has so far reported 23 cases of the Omicron variant, including two on Monday from Mumbai, 17 on Sunday nine persons from Rajasthan capital Jaipur, seven in Maharashtra’s Pune district and a fully vaccinated man who arrived in Delhi from Tanzania.

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