Covid unlikely to overwhelm hospitals: Experts

Covid unlikely to overwhelm hospitals: Experts

New Delhi: India’s count of daily new Covid-19 cases showed a marginal increase on Wednesday, marking a break in the down trend that had set in last week after weeks of a worrying increase, official data showed.

Experts say Covid-19 waves that can potentially overwhelm healthcare systems are unlikely to return and will pose less danger over time. Some say the disease may settle as a continually circulating respiratory infection.

“In fact, waste water surveillance in Bengaluru has shown that we went through a silent outbreak. Infections happened, but hospitals didn’t fill up,” said Virologist Shahid Jameel of the University of Oxford. “This shows vaccines and prior infections protect and the virus is pretty much endemic.”

On Wednesday, India reported 3,720 new infections in 24 hours, slightly higher than Tuesday’s count of 3,325. However, over the last few days, a declining trend has been seen in the number of new Covid-19 cases across the country.

The number of new cases began coming down from last week, after scaling the 10,000 mark earlier in April. On Monday, India had reported 4,282 new cases. Jameel said it’s difficult to say whether Covid-19 will settle into a seasonal flu or manifest all the time.

Anurag Agrawal, former head of the Insacog laboratory consortium and chair of the World Health Organization’s technical advisory group on virus evolution, said Covid could become a continually circulating respiratory infection. “It could easily settle that way too. Best is to have a surveillance strategy and see what happens,” he said.

According to Rajeev Jayadevan, co-chairman of Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) national Covid Task Force, the current sub-lineages belong to the Omicron family, and their visible trajectory is that of mini waves of clinical disease but with underlying large “invisible” waves of asymptomatic and untested cases with very high test positivity rates of close to 50% in certain settings.

(With inputs from health)