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Covid pandemic has entered endemic phase in India, claim Experts

by Vaishali Sharma

According to scientists, the odds of a third Covid-19 wave are slim under the “present circumstances” with only the Delta and its derivatives in circulation as the primary SARS-CoV-2 variations in circulation and the weekly caseload slowly declining.

“We need to forget about the third wave for the moment. If it does come up, it would be mid or the last quarter of next year,” said Dr T Jacob John, retired professor and head of the departments of clinical virology and microbiology, Christian Medical College (Vellore). “The Covid epidemic in India has transitioned into the endemic phase,” he added.Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of Maharashtra government’s Covid task force, said: “Nobody can predict the timing of third wave. If a new variant of concern emerges, it can’t be ruled out.”

John said the seven-day moving average of Covid cases has been below 50,000 for 16 weeks. It has been below 20,000 since October 9. John, also exdirector of ICMR’s Centre of Advanced Research in Virology, made the observations at an online talk, ‘Is the pandemic over?’ on Tuesday. He cited calculations based on the ‘reproduction number of virus’ that showed 450 million Indians were possibly infected during the first wave and another 830 million during second wave.

India’s vaccination coverage hasn’t been good compared to the first world countries. “We can say we’ve reached the endemic stage not due to vaccination but due to natural infection,” said John.

Reaching the endemic stage is not the end of Covid.“We are in the endemic stage for the long haul,” he said.

“There are areas which have been seeing 300-500 cases daily for months and have vaccination coverage.It is heading towards endemicity,” Joshi said.

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