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COVID May Be Heading Towards Becoming Endemic In India, Local Flare-Ups May Form Third Wave: Vaccinologist Dr Gangandeep Kang

Dr Gagandeep Kang said local flare-ups that will be smaller and spread wider across the country may lead to a third COVID wave, but the scale is not going to be anything like what we saw before

COVID May Be Heading Towards Becoming Endemic In India, Local Flare-Ups May Form Third Wave: Vaccinologist Dr Gangandeep Kang
Highlights
  • We have a lot of endemic diseases like influenza, said Dr Gagandeep Kang
  • “Maybe a quarter of India’s population is still susceptible to the virus”
  • Not looking at eradicating COVID-19; it has to become endemic: Dr Kang

New Delhi: Noting that COVID-19 may be heading towards endemicity in India, vaccinologist Dr Gangandeep Kang on Monday (September 20) said local flare-ups that will be smaller and spread wider across the country may add up to form a third wave of the pandemic, but the scale will not be like before. The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus. It is very different from the epidemic stage when the virus overwhelms a population. In an interview with PTI over the COVID-19 situation in India, Dr Kang said after the second wave, maybe a quarter of the country’s population continues to be susceptible to the virus.

Also Read: COVID-19 Explained: What Is The Endemic Stage Of COVID-19 That India May Be Entering Into?

So will we be able to achieve within that quarter the same numbers and the same patterns that we saw in the second wave? That I think is unlikely. What we will see is local flare-ups that will be smaller and spread wider across the country. Now if that will collect to form a third wave, that may happen if we have a lot of behaviour change around festivals, but the scale is not going to be anything like what we saw before, she said.

Asked if Covid may be heading towards an endemic stage in India, Dr Kang said, “Yes.”

When you have something that is not going to go away in the near future, it is heading towards endemicity. Right now, we are not looking at eradicating or eliminating SARS-CoV2, which means it has to become endemic, Dr Kang, who is a professor in the Christian Medical College, Vellore, said.

“We have a lot of endemic diseases like influenza, but you can have a pandemic layered on top of an endemic disease. So for example, if you get a new variant that completely escapes the immune response, you could have a pandemic again but that would not mean that SARS-CoV2 is only a pandemic and has stopped being endemic. There is both, because one set of variant will be doing something while another would be doing something else,” she explained.

Also Read: Explained: What Is A Breakthrough Infection And How To Prevent Catching COVID-19 After Getting Fully Vaccinated

Dr Kang stressed on the need for developing better vaccines that can deal with new variants of Covid.

We designed vaccines based on the ancestral variant of SARS-CoV-2. Is that the best possible vaccine we could have in terms of the quantity, quality and longevity of immune response?

So will it be better for us to have a vaccine based on a newer variant, should we be thinking about combining the two — like one dose with the older variant and one with the new — what will that mean in terms of immune response?

“I think these are things for us to think about and we should focus on making the product — new variant-based vaccines, new platform vaccines — and test those very carefully in clinical trials, so we can maximise the value that vaccines bring. And we can only do that if we experiment enough of what we have and what we can potentially make, she said.

Speaking about how the pandemic overwhelmed the medical system and affected other diseases, she said what needs to be done is rationalising the approach.

Also Read: COVID-19 Explained: What Is ‘Long COVID’?

What we need to do is rationalise our approach. What we did during the height of the pandemic is that we took people, laboratories, testing away from the regular medical system and devoted all these resources to COVID-19…we cannot be doing the same thing we did 18 months ago…we need to think that in the future, if we need to ramp up SARS-CoV-2 activity, what will we do so that we will not lose what we lost this time around, she said.

Dr Kang said in many states, the maternal mortality rate went up because women did not get care, the immunisation programmes were affected, people with cancer did not get chemotherapy, those diabetic could not get medicines, the TB programme, which needs high compliance with therapy, struggled.

What we need to do is build resilience in the healthcare system so we do not lurch from damage to damage, she said.

She said the time has come to rethink about the attitude towards testing.

I think we also need to change what we are measuring about COVID-19 and should measure what matters — what puts people in hospitals, what puts people in the risk of dying, not just the fact that the test is positive. And then, another thing to remember is that with any test, you can potentially have false positives…so the imperative to understand what testing is really showing us matters more and more now, she added.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is The Difference Between Pandemic And Epidemic?

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. 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 become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,24,98,327Cases
20,40,54,102Active
3,35,14,449Recovered
49,29,776Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,24,98,327 and 49,29,776 have died; 20,40,54,102 are active cases and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 5:24 am.

India

3,41,43,236 15,786Cases
1,75,7453,086Active
3,35,14,449 18,641Recovered
4,53,042 231Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,43,236 confirmed cases including 4,53,042 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,75,745 and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,98,218 1,573

27,899 1,434

64,30,394 2,968

1,39,925 39

Kerala

48,88,523 8,733

82,093 1,240

47,79,228 9,855

27,202 118

Karnataka

29,84,849 365

9,017 86

29,37,848 443

37,984 8

Tamil Nadu

26,91,797 1,164

13,790 268

26,42,039 1,412

35,968 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,303 493

5,500 66

20,42,476 552

14,327 7

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,068 10

107 5

16,87,062 14

22,899 1

West Bengal

15,83,646 833

7,535 44

15,57,090 775

19,021 14

Delhi

14,39,488 22

311 1

14,14,087 21

25,090

Odisha

10,37,056 524

4,336 51

10,24,422 573

8,298 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,773 38

206 21

9,91,995 16

13,572 1

Rajasthan

9,54,395 2

36 2

9,45,405 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,353 13

156 20

8,16,110 33

10,087

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,721 12

88 6

7,82,110 6

10,523

Haryana

7,71,125 9

131 2

7,60,945 11

10,049

Bihar

7,26,042 6

30 0

7,16,351 6

9,661

Telangana

6,69,739 183

3,967 1

6,61,829 183

3,943 1

Assam

6,07,811 384

3,762 152

5,98,087 228

5,962 4

Punjab

6,02,135 22

226 6

5,85,358 27

16,551 1

Jharkhand

3,48,526 40

166 24

3,43,225 16

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,787 14

176 0

3,36,213 14

7,398

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,386 87

814 14

3,26,143 73

4,429

Himachal Pradesh

2,22,138 202

1,452 58

2,16,955 140

3,731 4

Goa

1,77,765 59

618 21

1,73,790 35

3,357 3

Puducherry

1,27,564 43

454 7

1,25,258 50

1,852

Manipur

1,23,051 81

1,346 14

1,19,800 94

1,905 1

Mizoram

1,15,944 737

10,034 229

1,05,510 962

400 4

Tripura

84,369 18

105 10

83,448 8

816

Meghalaya

83,210 52

735 26

81,034 76

1,441 2

Chandigarh

65,315 3

26 2

64,469 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,065 22

140 2

54,645 20

280

Sikkim

31,819 19

185 10

31,241 9

393

Nagaland

31,670 11

250 5

30,743 15

677 1

Ladakh

20,896 10

43 9

20,645 1

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,678 2

4 2

10,670

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,646

7 0

7,510

129

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