Covid waves will continue as sub-variants evolve: Experts

As the daily Covid-19 infection count in the national capital fluctuates, experts have said India will continue to record such ups and downs as Omicron‘s sub-variants evolve to escape the immune pressure, and urged authorities to remain alert.

Anurag Agrawal, chair of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution, said this interplay will not create any substantial risks to the highly immune general population, but vulnerable people like the elderly or those with compromised immune systems must exercise care.

“As of now there is no variant that frequently leads to severe disease in people with immunity, and almost everyone has acquired some immunity by infection, vaccination or most commonly both,” he said.

After last week’s uptick in cases in Delhi, the state on Monday reported a slight drop in new infections at 822, but said the positivity rate had increased to 11.41%.

“We have to be watchful till December at least,” said NK Arora, chairman of the Covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), adding that as of now the situation is under control, as Omicron sub-lineages which have so far been detected have not led to any significant upsurge. Since the emergence of the Omicron variant in January this year, this is the third time that cases have started to go up. Prior to this, an uptick had been seen towards the end of April to early May, and then in mid-June. Experts say fluctuation in count will continue.

Virologist Shahid Jameel of the University of Oxford said he would be worried if the hospitalisations go up as well.

The number of hospitalisations in the capital remained over 300 on Monday.

According to the Delhi corona app, 319 non-oxygen beds, 306 oxygen beds and 91 ICU beds in the state’s hospitals have Covid-19 patients.

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (Insacog), the group of government institutions involved in genome sequencing of the coronavirus, held a meeting on Friday to review the situation and found that BA.2 remains the dominant sub-lineage. The Omicron BA.5 sub-lineage accounts for 15-20% of the cases.

A mix of other sub-lineages like BA.2.75, BA.2.38 are also circulating in the country. It was seen that 10% recombinant lineages, including XE with other combinations are circulating in the country too.

(With inputs from health)