A total of 161,386 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 across the 1st February according to Union Health Ministry data. The caseload marks a consistent decline from the peaks of around 350,000 recorded in mid January, giving a positive indication that India’s third wave may be in decline.
Keeping in line with data being recorded elsewhere across the globe, the latest outbreak of the Omicron variant has proven far less deadly than the Delta variant that drove India’s second wave. India recorded 1,728 deaths on the 1st February, currently the highest point of India’s third wave of cases. This is far lower than the peaks exceeding 5,000 deaths during the second wave.
Governments across the globe are now accepting that COVID-19 may become an endemic disease, rather than aiming for eradication. As Health Issues India previously mentioned
“Given the virality of COVID-19 – and the sheer number of conditions and pace at which it spread – it was always unlikely that the progression of the pandemic would be entirely halted. Even in countries where vaccination rates are very high, breakthrough cases – or cases in which a person is infected despite either being previously infected or vaccinated – can allow the disease to continue spreading. Eradication of COVID-19, therefore, was always a longshot. It was therefore speculated that eventually, COVID-19 would simply become an endemic condition, much the same as the flu.”
Continued research is being released indicating that vaccination provides protection against severe effects of the Omicron variant. One study, published recently in the journal Nature, analysed the specific effects of currently used vaccines against the new strain. “Our data provide immunological context for the observation that current vaccines still provide robust protection against severe disease and hospitalisation due to the Omicron variant despite substantially reduced neutralising antibody responses and increased breakthrough infection,” said corresponding author Dan H Barouch.
The Omicron variant has proven less deadly than its predecessors. This may be due to a combination of factors, ranging from the specific mutations of the strain itself, to the increased rate of vaccination among many countries compared to the rates during previous waves of COVID-19. However, as cases remain at an all time high across the globe, the potential for future mutation remains high. Vigilance, as has been the message since the onset of the pandemic, remains essential in the continued fight against COVID-19.