Home Covid News and Updates Scientists assuage concern of fresh Covid outbreak, stating that instances are increasing but focusing on hospital admissions

Scientists assuage concern of fresh Covid outbreak, stating that instances are increasing but focusing on hospital admissions

by Vaishali Sharma

Though COVID instances are increasing in Delhi and its satellite cities, the focus should be on hospital admissions that have stayed stable or have changed very little, according to various scientists, emphasising that the increase is not indicative of a fourth wave throughout the country at this time.

The elimination of COVID-19 limitations, including the reopening of schools for offline lessons, more socialising, and economic activity, they believe, may be causing the uptick in the national capital and its surrounding areas, as well as in some other pockets.

For more than two weeks, all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. It is the holiday period, and people are meeting and intermingling. This is also reflected in social mobility and economic activity, which are higher than in pre-pandemic periods, “physician-epidemiologist Chandrakant Lahariya told PTI while also advising caution and stressing continued surveillance.”

“Merely counting cases has no meaning,” he said. “Though cases are rising in Delhi, hospital admissions remain unchanged or marginally changed,” he said.

Given the epidemiological and scientific evidence, the current rise in cases in Delhi is not the start of the fourth wave.

“SARS CoV-2 is going to stay with us for a long time, and therefore, there is not going to be any period when the new cases will be zero,” he said.

Delhi’s COVID-19 positivity rate on Monday jumped to 7.72 percent with 501 fresh cases, according to health department data. The last time the positivity rate was above seven percent in the city was on January 29 (7.4 percent) and January 28 (8.6 percent), officials said.

This is in stark contrast to India’s overall positive rate of 0.31 percent revealed on Tuesday by the Union Health Ministry, when 1,247 coronavirus infections were confirmed.

While experts don’t know why, Amita Gupta, a US-based infectious disease researcher, said that the increase in cases in Delhi and other states might be due to looser restrictions, pandemic weariness, and the virus’s increased transmissibility.

Gupta, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease and Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told PTI that “we believe that, despite the enhanced transmissibility, this will not result in a significant rise in severe cases needing hospitalization.”

“It truly helps that India has done a wonderful job vaccinating its people, and now it is crucial to continue doing so and to offer booster injections to those who are eligible,” she added.

Manindra Agrawal, a modeller who has been studying India’s COVID-19 trajectory since the outbreak began, agreed.

According to Agrawal, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, to PTI, “Increased social mobility, reduced guard, and elimination of mask mandates are likely factors for the increase in COVID cases.”

For the time being, there is also no hint of a fourth wave. “That will require the emergence of a new mutant,” Agrawal continued.

Because testing rates have declined, it is unclear if the instances recorded are a real reflection of the issue, according to epidemiologist Ramanan Laxminarayan.

“Testing has decreased, and we are certainly missing cases, but given where we are in the pandemic, I would focus on hospitalizations rather than caseloads,” Laxminarayan, head of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy in Washington and New Delhi, told PTI.

There is a global upswing of cases, and we can expect more synchrony in COVID cases internationally now that travel obstacles between nations have been reduced.

“The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron appears to be more capable of evading immunity to produce infections but is also less fatal, probably due to past infection and vaccine immunity,” he added.

Scientists also warned against becoming complacent.

For example, Lahariya, for example, stated that the globe is still recovering from the epidemic and that it is difficult to anticipate when new variations may arise and how they will behave.

“We should maintain tight monitoring for early identification of COVID cases using current surveillance networks in the country, and be ready to trigger suggestions to restore masking and social distancing if and when spikes emerge,” he added.

The use of masks by individuals in Delhi has decreased significantly since officials waived a Rs 500 punishment earlier this month. Experts disagree on whether this was a wise decision given the increased occurrence of illnesses.

Agrawal remarked that reintroducing mask regulations would be a positive move, but the data available at the moment is inadequate to make any predictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s future trajectory in the nation.

Lahariya said that, like with any respiratory virus or sickness, we should always expect a surge at regular intervals.

“The BA.2 and XE sublineages are now worldwide, and we are expected to witness further global convergence in COVID patterns as transmission across nations becomes simpler,” Laxminarayan stated.

The BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus has caused an increase in COVID cases in various nations, including the United States, in recent weeks, but the hospitalisation rate has been modest.

According to Lahariya, comparing comparisons with other countries or drawing conclusions from global trends is illogical.

“Whatever happens in another nation has no bearing on India and bears no lessons.” The emphasis must be on making decisions based on local evidence. Every country’s situation is unique. “BA.2 or XE, a recombinant of the BA.1 and BA.2 sublineages, is unlikely to produce a significant increase in cases in India.”

“The current Omicron rise in India in January-February 2022 was caused by BA.2. We know from science that the same variety (of which XE is a sub-type) can not trigger a new wave for at least six to nine months.

The caveat is that “if a new variety is more transmissible than Omicron and has immune escape, then there is just the chance of a new wave,” he noted.

Other cities, in addition to Delhi, have observed an increase in their COVID graphs. Kerala reported a five-day increase of 940 new cases on April 18th.

The number of Covid positive cases in Haryana increased from 514 between April 5 and April 11 to 1,119 between April 12 and 18, with Gurugram and Faridabad reporting the most instances, both of which are close to Delhi.

The number of illnesses in Noida and Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, increased from roughly 45 daily cases across the state at the beginning of the month to 135 cases on Monday.


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