Covid will become endemic by March 11, according to Samiran Panda, head of the Epidemiological Department of the Indian Council of Medical Research.
“If we don’t let our guards down and no new variant emerges, Covid will be endemic by March 11,” he said. “If Omicron replaces Delta it will become endemic. If there is no new variant catching up, there is a possibility that Covid may become endemic,” he added.
Our mathematical projection shows the Omicron wave will last three months starting December 11.
“From March 11, we will see some respite. We need to wait two more weeks to say if Delhi and Mumbai have reached their peaks of Covid cases and if the worst is over. We can’t establish a trend like that in a few days,” he said.
“We can’t say that right now even with the decline in cases and positivity [in Delhi and Mumbai],” he said.
Panda added Delhi and Mumbai have a roughly 80:20 ratio for Omicron and Delta variants of coronavirus.
Different states are in different stages of the pandemic and the ICMR has also changed its testing strategy because of the epidemiological variations in the virus and the pandemic changing its course.
“We never asked states not to reduce testing. We asked for more directed and purposive testing. The pandemic has also changed its character and, hence, the testing and management strategies will change. Making guidelines available in local languages on home testing etc will send out the right message,” Samiran Panda said.
Speaking about the genomic sequencing, he said: “Genomic sequencing is a dynamic phenomenon. But genomic sequencing on a dead body to understand if he had Omicron is a simplistic argument. Many patients die of underlying conditions. Yes, we are studying infections in hospitals to understand the severity.”
Dismissing, speculation of a disconnect between ICMR and DCGI over Molnupiravir’s exclusion from the government’s Covid guidelines, he said: “Molnupiravir can be given to unvaccinated patients, but there is no guideline to administer it to pregnant women, lactating women, and kids. That’s why it is not in the protocol.”