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Indian authorities say country will not witness a covid fourth wave

Covid has infected more than 44 million people and claimed 5,27,991  lives in India. HTPremium
Covid has infected more than 44 million people and claimed 5,27,991  lives in India. HT

  • Top Indian scientists and public health experts said a large part of India’s population has already been exposed to the Omicron variant during the third wave, and have developed hybrid immunity by vaccination, booster doses and natural infection, which has not been the case in China

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NEW DELHI : Indian government and health authorities say India will not witness a fresh wave of covid, unlike China, which they claim has not developed herd immunity.

This comes even as the government admits that 88% of adults in the 18-59 age group are yet to receive their booster jabs. India logged 6,809 new infections and 26 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Top Indian scientists and public health experts said a large part of India’s population has already been exposed to the Omicron variant during the third wave, and have developed hybrid immunity by vaccination, booster doses and natural infection, which has not been the case in China.

Indian scientists said that since the onset of covid-19 pandemic, China has followed a strategy of strict non-pharmacological interventions such as lockdowns; hence, their hybrid immunity is not so strong.

With more than 300 Omicron variants in circulation in India, the scientists are of the view that India’s population will not get affected with the current Omicron variants until new variants of concern (VOC) flood the country.

Dr Pragya Yadav, senior scientist at the government’s ICMR-NIV Pune said, “China has always followed a zero-covid policy and due to this people in China have not developed hybrid immunity. The surge in new cases in China is due to Omicron variant and at the moment all over the world only Omicron variant is circulating. But in India people were exposed to covid in the first, second and Omicron dominated third wave. As of now, we can be sure that we cannot get affected with the current Omicron variant until new VoC which is more dangerous occurs and (if) vaccines don’t impact."

Covid has infected more than 44 million people and claimed 5,27,991 lives in India since the onset of covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, according government data. Unofficial figures put the death toll at many times higher. “We have all Omicron viruses which are circulating in any part of the world and despite that covid cases are declining in India. This means that our covid vaccination strategy and immunity through natural infection has played a key role. Since there is no new virus, we have to be vigilant and do very good surveillance to detect any new variant if it comes whether it has any potential to cause any severity or not. Overall, the situation is under control," Dr N.K. Arora, chief of the government’s NTAGI said.

Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor of community medicine at the government-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences said that it is very unlikely that India will ever face a fourth wave because of the very high infection rate during second wave.

“Almost all of the Indian population got natural infection during the second wave. Natural infection gives long lasting protection, almost 100% while protection from the vaccination is only for 6-9 months.

“The Omicron covid wave is affecting countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam because they do not have immunity through natural infections."

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