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Business News/ News / India/  No new Covid wave, only ‘expected fluctuations’: Experts on current surge in cases

The present surge in Covid-19 cases is not a sign of a new wave but an “expected fluctuation" during the endemic prevalence of the virus, news agency PTI has reported, quoting experts. 

It has also been emphasised by the experts that people not wearing face masks or taking booster vaccine doses may have caused the surge as unlike a wave, it is not equally distributed across regions. 

"A few states lead, others are not involved. In those states, the phenomenon is mainly a big city picture, not widely spreading. This pattern is not a harbinger of a new wave but expected fluctuations during endemic prevalence," said noted virologist T Jacob John.

"A wave must have more numbers than the previous day consistently – that is not the case for us now," he added. 

He said people ignoring the safety protocols is the main reason behind the spike in cases. He also refuted claims that new variants are responsible for the surge.

"Who gave the orders that people need not wear masks any longer? Who advised that people should continue wearing masks in places where people assemble indoors?  That one behaviour alone is sufficient to explain the gradual increase in cities," said John, a former director of the ICMR's Centre of Advanced Research in Virology.

The second obstacle, he said, is people not taking booster doses.

"The higher the booster dose coverage, the lower will the number of infections; lower the number of infections, lower the number of cases," he said, pointing out that less than five per cent of people had taken their boosters.

“Who is responsible for this low coverage?  I understand people are not trusting the government regarding vaccine safety and the government is not bothered either," he said. 

John's statements were echoed by Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, physician-epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist. 

Lahariya said that the Omicron variant is predominant in India and even though its two new sub-lineage, BA.4 and BA.5, have been reported to be slightly more transmissible, they are barely present in India and not enough to fuel a major spike.

"There is no evidence of the emergence of a new variant of concern. Putting all of these together, it is fair to conclude that the current localised surge is not a start of a new national wave," he said.

To put the surge in context, he said there are two things to remember. “One, neither an earlier SARS CoV2 infection nor the Covid-19 vaccination (at least not the ones which are being used in India) are known to prevent subsequent infection," he said.

"Second, now SARS CoV2 is present in all settings and is likely to stay around for long. Alongside, Covid-19 being an infectious disease, the rise and fall in the cases is going to be a routine process. What we are seeing in select Indian cities and states in terms of a spike in Covid-19 cases is on expected lines," he added.

A rise may be seen in additional cities and states in months to follow but with every rise "we should not jump to the conclusion that it is a fresh wave", he said.

This comes as seventeen districts in India, including seven from Kerala and five from Mizoram, are reporting a weekly Covid-19 positivity rate of more than 10%. In 24 districts, including seven from Kerala and four each from Maharashtra and Mizoram, the weekly positivity is between 5 to 10%.

With inputs from agencies. 

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Updated: 12 Jun 2022, 06:17 PM IST
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