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Business News/ News / India/  COVID 4th wave likely only if…, former ICMR chief on how emergence of new variants can be stopped

After an IIT Kanpur team predicted that COVID 4th wave is likely to hit India in June, virologist Dr. T Jacob John pointed out that he is "fairly confident" that chances of another coronavirus surge is bleak “unless an unexpected variant that behaves differently comes up." The former ICMR chief also noted that third wave of COVID-19 has ended in India. 

COVID 4th wave is unlikely unless… 

Underlining that India is unlikely to witness another COVID wave John told news agency PTI, "Taking all the available information in India -- epidemiological and virus variants -- and the global trend, we can be fairly confident that no fourth wave will occur, notwithstanding erudite mathematical model predictions. The model methodology is not valid in this situation,"

"Unless an unexpected variant that behaves differently from alpha, beta, gamma or Omicron comes, there would be no fourth wave," he added. 

We have entered the endemic stage

With India consistently reporting very few COVID cases for the last couple of weeks, the former director of the Indian Council for Medical Research's Centre of Advanced Research in Virology said, the third wave of COVID-19 had plateaued and the country has entered an endemic phase once again.

"I say (entered endemic phase) since my own definition of an endemic state is 'low and steady daily numbers, with only minor fluctuations, if any, for at least four weeks'. My personal expectation, hence opinion, is that we will be in the endemic phase for more than four weeks. All states in India show the same trend, giving me this confidence," he told PTI.

The 'endemic stage' is when a population learns to live with a virus. It is different from the 'epidemic stage' when the virus overwhelms a population.

Need to be watchful of new variants

He also notified, all past pandemics of respiratory-transmitted diseases have been due to influenza and every influenza pandemic ended after two or three waves, and remained in an endemic phase, with minor fluctuations of seasonal upsurges, always settling back to low numbers.

“Some years, the seasonal upsurges were by virus lineages that had undergone antigenic drift. SARS-CoV-2 will keep on developing mutations and it is possible that some mutations will cause some antigenic drift and such viruses may cause minor outbreaks -- mostly few and far between."

Hence it is extremely essential to remain watchful and continue disease surveillance and gene sequencing so that a new mutant variant don't surprise us. 

(With inputs from agencies)



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Updated: 08 Mar 2022, 03:40 PM IST
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