New Delhi: The coronavirus has reached the endemic stage after hovering for more than three years, however, the viral load and emergence of any new variant still need to be monitored, said Dr. Rakesh Mishra, director of the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS). Dr. Mishra said that the spread of the infection needs to be monitored closely. He said,
Like any common thing, we are now used to this virus, and that’s why the hospital load didn’t increase. It is clear from this surveillance that this wave is now over. We haven’t modelled anything that will happen. This virus is not going to be a major health issue. We still need to keep a watch on the COVID-19 virus through genome sequencing to monitor viral load and any new variants.
The level of infection India has seen recently was more significant than the third wave and would have been a big problem, Dr. Mishra told news agency ANI. He added,
However, it did not happen because of vaccination, or hybrid immunity. Clinically, the virus is more infectious, but clinically less harmful as it affects the body like the common cold.
Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the COVID-19 pandemic was over as a global health emergency.
Detailing as to what is an endemic stage of a virus, Senior Consultant, Pulmonologist at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr. Dhiren Gupta, said that any virus that has been consistently present and has become more predictable and manageable, it has reached the endemic stage. He said that the coronavirus pandemic has been there for more than three years, and now it appears to have become endemic in India. Dr. Dhiren said while the cases continue to rise and drop, the hospitalisations have remained low. He further said,
Patients without vaccination were developing moderate to severe forms of the disease until last year. But now, even though new cases are being reported, the share of Indians requiring hospitalisation has decreased. I believe the disease will become endemic because new mutations will keep coming in every season. We need to keep a close watch on the virus in the next three to five years.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, Chairman – Institute of Internal Medicine and Respiratory & Sleep Medicine and Director – Medical Education, Medanta, said that the coronavirus pandemic will reach endemicity. With its evolving strains and variants, COVID-19 will continue to hit the population in regular episodes and such an endemic situation, he said, is always manageable. He further said that India may not witness any other pandemic like the coronavirus.
When we started in 2019, we had no immunity, but a lot has happened in the last few years. We have got immunity naturally, we have even got vaccinated and now the large part of the population has developed a good immune response and immunity against viruses like these.
Talking on whether viruses like COVID-19 will be recurring and are becoming endemic, Dr. Guleria said,
Viruses have been making the comeback for the last 23 years. In fact, the last 23 years have been the century of outbreaks – from SARS, MERS, H1N1, Swine Flu, COVID -19 and Ebola outbreak. One fact we know is that we will continue to see more and more outbreaks in the coming years. The reason is that we are travelling like never before, so we are carrying the virus from one place to another. Secondly, there is lot of encroachment between animals, birds and humans, which is letting viruses jump species. Also, viruses are evolving into human viruses. There is the concept of one health, it is high time now we understand that everyone’s health is interlinked. We just cannot ignore the health of the environment, animals, plants, species and simply look at human health.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the 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 – the LGBTQ 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 current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) 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, fight malnutrition, 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, which 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 like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.