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It may not be the new wave yet, vaccination plus the Covid protocol is key to quelling the increase in cases: scientists | India News

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NEW DELHI: With India recording the highest number of daily new coronavirus cases in 83 days on Saturday, the country could head into a new wave that scientists say can be quelled by vaccinating as many people as possible and following appropriate behavior from Covid.
The Union Ministry of Health reported 24,882 new Covid-19 infections, up from 23,285 the day before and according to a graph that gradually progresses upwards. This is the highest daily increase since December 20, when 26,624 new infections were recorded.
As the red flags were being lit, the jury was out on whether it constituted a new wave of the pandemic. Scientists grappled with the why and how of the increase in cases, but agreed that adherence to Covid-19 protocols and intensifying the vaccination campaign to cover more people were necessary to control the upward trajectory. of the illness.
Anurag Agarwal, director of the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, said that scientists at his institute are trying to understand whether the increase in cases is due to more transmissible variants of the virus or due to a lag in precautionary measures followed by people. . Although it is not clear whether a new wave of the pandemic is taking place, some things are certain.
“Proper Covid behavior and vaccination remain our best ways to stop the pandemic,” Agarwal told PTI.
Possibly there could be a silver line somewhere.
According to Monica Gulati, Senior Dean and Director of the Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences at Lovely Professional University, India’s upward curve is not very high unlike other countries where new strains have been found, indicating that the prevalent strain does not it is very infectious.
He also said that the current increase in reported coronavirus infections could be due to the spread of new variants, as well as the informal attitude of the general public. Gulati explained that the current increase in cases “is very well separated and shows a less pronounced increase than the previous ones, indicating a change in the causal factor.”
“While in countries where the new strains are more lethal than the original strains, the new wave is much steeper and higher compared to the old one. In India, the slope of the upward curve is not very high yet, which it can be attributed to a number of factors, including a break in the chain of spread due to the high vaccination rate and low infectivity of the prevalent strain, “Gulati told PTI. Other scientists had a darker view of the situation.
The seven-day average of new infection cases has increased by 67 percent in India, from 10,988 cases per day during the week before February 11 to 18,371 average cases per day during the week ending Wednesday, the rate of positivity, which is the fraction of coronavirus tests conducted across the country that are positive for the infection, has also risen steadily over the past month. While it was only 1.6 percent for the week leading up to February 14, currently 2.6 percent of all samples tested are positive for coronavirus infection, an increase of a full percentage point in a month.
Rakesh Mishra, director of the CSIR-Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), warned that there could be a new wave if current trends continue and new local variants of the virus may emerge.
“There is the possibility of another wave. Right now, this is already happening in a couple of states, including Maharashtra, in an important way. But this can be avoided with exceptional advice and the continuation of appropriate Covid behavior,” Mishra said to PTI.
“Currently, the increase in cases is happening in several cities, in all states, and it does not seem that a new variant is responsible for all these sudden increases, but a common characteristic in all these places is the lack of appropriate behavior of Covid. And if this continues, it may even lead to new variants emerging in India, “he added. Virologist Upasana Ray agreed that it may be too early to say whether a second wave is currently underway, but said the trends definitely point to a localized increase.
“While it may or may not turn out to be a second wave, we should consider it a potential concern and be prepared for the worst,” Ray, principal scientist at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, told PTI.
“We hear about new variants. Whether any of them are responsible or not, that part is not yet established. However, keeping an eye on home-grown mutants would be important,” he added.
Ray said there is widespread pandemic fatigue, due to people no longer following appropriate Covid-19 behavior like masking, social distancing and maintaining hygiene as they did before.
The need at the moment is to review compliance with security measures in all public places, he said.
“Then comes the acceleration of vaccines so that immunity is achieved faster in the population and localized surges can die due to the decrease in the transmission rate. In addition, rigorous detection and isolation are still important to maintain a control, “added the virologist.
As of 7 p.m. Thursday, more than 2.6 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered nationwide. These included 72,16,759 (72.16 lakh) healthcare workers (PS) who have taken the first dose and 40,48,754 (40.48 lakh) PS who have taken the second dose, according to the Union Ministry of Health. .
Given the current vaccination rate, Agarwal said, it would take a while for the country to develop herd immunity, which is when a significant part of the population develops immunity against the coronavirus and stops its chain of transmission. The need of the moment, Gulati said, is to dispel fear and skepticism among the general population regarding vaccination. “Since vaccines given in India have been found to be safe and effective, people must demonstrate their willingness to get vaccinated, especially vulnerable groups,” he added.
“Since vaccination is voluntary and available at the rate of 250 rupees per injection, now the onus is on people to get vaccinated voluntarily to break the vicious cycle of infection.”
In his view, the current approach should be to ensure that the maximum number of eligible people are vaccinated and continue to observe all precautionary measures until herd immunity is established. Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that six states (Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu) continue to report a high number of new cases of Covid-19 and together they account for 85.91 percent of new cases daily. in the country. .
Expressing concern about the increase in active Covid-19 cases in these states, the Center has advised people to be “careful and vigilant” and not to lower their guard.
NITI Aayog member VK Paul described the coronavirus situation, especially in Maharashtra, earlier this week as “worrying.” Paul warned that in districts where Covid-19 cases are apparently on the rise, vaccination of eligible individuals should be stepped up and prioritized.

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