Third wave: Rapid spread, but fewer hospitalisations

On Sunday, India reported 33,682 fresh covid-19 cases, 21% higher than a day before. (Photo: Mint)
On Sunday, India reported 33,682 fresh covid-19 cases, 21% higher than a day before. (Photo: Mint)

Summary

A Mint analysis showed that less than one in 10 infected patients in Delhi is in hospitals, against nearly 25% at a similar stage of the last wave triggered by the Delta variant.

Early data suggests that India’s new wave of infections may not be causing as many hospitalizations as the devastating second wave last year, even though it is spreading more rapidly.

A Mint analysis showed that less than one in 10 infected patients in Delhi is in hospitals, against nearly 25% at a similar stage of the last wave triggered by the Delta variant.

On Sunday, India reported 33,682 fresh covid-19 cases, 21% higher than a day before. The total tally for the Omicron variant has reached 1,710, said the health ministry on Monday. The national capital reported 4,099 new cases on Monday, an increase of 28%.

Infections are spreading faster during the Omicron-led wave than during the Delta wave. For example, within eight days (27 December to 3 January), Delhi saw a 12-fold rise in its daily cases, from below 500 to above 4,000. For a comparable eight-day period of 17-24 March during the Delta-led wave, the spread of new infections was far slower, from 536 to 1,254.

Vaccine Impact?
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Vaccine Impact?

However, over the past eight days, the average hospitalization rate—or the number of patients in hospital over total active cases—was 9.2%, as against 25% in the period 17-24 March, when last year’s pandemic wave was starting.

Delhi has a 74% first-dose coverage of covid-19 vaccinations. Mumbai has also reported a quick surge in cases in the past few days, from 5,631 on 31 December to 8,063 on 2 January. However, similar to Delhi, the number of hospitalizations hardly increased—from 497 to 503—during this period.

Comparable figures for the April wave are not available for Mumbai.

The Delhi government has attributed 351 cases to the Omicron variant so far, but this may not give an accurate picture, given the low number of samples being sent for genome sequencing.

According to the sequencing reports of 30-31 December, 81% of Delhi’s samples were infected with Omicron, Delhi’s health minister told the assembly.

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