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Omicron-driven third wave in India likely to peak in Feb

By Jasleen Kaur -- December 18, 2021 6:10 pm -- Updated:December 18, 2021 6:11 pm

Daily Covid-19 caseload in India that is currently around 7,500 infections is expected to increase once the Omicron starts displacing Delta as the dominant variant, informed members of the National Covid-19 Supermodel Committee and predicted the third wave in India early year.

Vidyasagar, who is also the head of the National Covid-19 Supermodel Committee, said India would have Omicron's third wave, but it would be milder than the second wave.

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"The Third wave is likely to arrive early next year in India. It should be milder than the second wave due to a large-scale immunity present in the country now. There will definitely be a third wave. Right now, we are at around 7,500 cases per day, which is sure to go up once Omicron starts displacing Delta as the dominant variant," he said.

Vidyasagar, who is also a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Hyderabad, said it was unlikely that India would see more daily cases than the second wave.

"It is extremely unlikely that the third wave will see more daily cases than the second wave. Please remember that the Government of India started vaccinating ordinary Indians (ie, other than frontline workers) only starting March 1, which was just about the time that the Delta variant hit. So the Delta variant hit a population that was 100 per cent vaccine-naive, other than the frontline workers," he said.

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He further said according to a sero-survey, a tiny fraction had left that had not come into contact with Delta virus. "Now we have sero-prevalence of 75 per cent to 80 per cent (prior exposure), first dose for 85 per cent of adults, both doses for 55 per cent of adults, and a "reach" for the pandemic of 95 per cent (meaning that only a tiny fraction of the public has not come into contact with the virus)," he added.

"So the third wave will not see as many as daily cases as the second wave. We have also built up our capacity based on that experience, so we should be able to cope without difficulty," he said.

Explaining further, the IIT professor said the number of cases would depend on two factors, each of which is unknown at present. "First, what is the extent to which Omicron bypasses natural immunity obtained by prior exposure to Delta," he said

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Citing the second reason, he said, "Second, what is the extent to which Omicron bypasses the immunity conferred by vaccination. Because these are not known, we have generated various "scenarios," assuming (for example) 100 per cent vaccine protection remains, or only 50 per cent remains, or all of it goes away. The same for natural immunity escape. For each scenario, we project the number of cases that could result."

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According to Vidyasagar, in the worst scenario, India would not have more than two lakh cases per day in case the third wave grips the country.

-PTC News

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