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New Delhi: According to the researchers at the John Hopkins University, the overall pattern of the coronavirus pandemic so far has been a series of COVID-19 waves: surges in new cases followed by declines. Once again, in various regions across the globe including the United States of America, Europe and South East Asia, cases are surging as the more contagious Omicron sub-variant BA.2 continues to gain ground, experts have said. In the wake of nations witnessing a sudden surge in Covid cases, is India also headed for a fourth wave? To find out, we spoke with Dr Gagandeep Kang, Microbiologist, Virologist and Professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.
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While talking about the situation in India, Dr Kang said that the country has done a brilliant job with COVID-19 vaccination and with more and more people vaccinated, the risk decreases significantly. She said,
If we want to compare India to other countries, we must look at those countries that have similar age structure as ours and those that have a similar infection and vaccination history as ours. If we look at the countries that are seeing surges right now, one thing that is very clear is that they don’t have our age structure and also their infection and vaccination history is different. Therefore, to draw conclusions, we need to make sure that our own surveillance systems are functioning well and can give us early signals if there is going to be an increase.
According to Dr Kang, people have been getting infected with coronaviruses for years but those rarely cause severe disease. She said that if there are more variants of coronavirus that resemble Omicron, then there are more chances of the world getting seasonal coronaviruses. However, she highlighted that the matter of worry is that if there is a variant as transmissible, as eager to infect as Omicron but is also able to cause severe diseases. It is then there will be a fourth wave and a similar situation will take place as happened during the second wave when the Delta variant was dominant. This means that there will be more hospitalisations and deaths. She said,
Currently, what we are observing is a shift from contagious Omicron sub-variant BA.1 to BA.2 which is causing infections that resembles the infection caused by BA.1 which is more transmissible but does not seem to lead to a more severe disease.
She further said that initially, the number of cases mattered more because that reflected hospitalisation but now with vaccination in place, the number of cases matters less. Therefore, we should not be alarmed with the rising numbers, she said.
In terms of disease and mortality, I don’t think there is any need to immediately worry about what is happening, said Dr Kang.
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NDTV – Dettolhave been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 viaBanega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlightthe inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind.It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities.In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.”The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.