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Experts Decode India’s Second Wave Covid | India News

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NEW DELHI: From nearly 15,500 cases on March 1 this year, India’s daily coronavirus numbers have risen nearly 10-fold to more than 1.5 lakh of new infections on April 11.
India now consistently records a six-figure addition in cases every day, while daily deaths also hover above the 800 mark.
This remarkable increase in numbers, much more severe and rapid than that experienced during the first wave, has puzzled everyone. Especially when it seemed that the country had managed to control the situation only a couple of months ago.
But what has caused this chilling increase? Is it insensitivity on the part of the citizens? Are new and highly infectious variants at stake? Are we opening too too soon?
Here’s what the government and experts believe …
What the Center says
The Center has given three main reasons behind the continued increase in numbers: lack of adherence to Covid norms (wearing of masks and social distancing), pandemic fatigue, and lack of effective implementation of containment measures at the field level.
During his interaction with senior ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned how people and governments have turned casual in their fight against the coronavirus due to a long and arduous battle against the pandemic.
The government has repeatedly said that people are not following appropriate Covid behavior in public places, which could be one of the main reasons for the increase.
This is, in large part, related to pandemic fatigue, as people feel unmotivated to follow recommended behaviors to protect themselves and others from the virus.
Experts say
Experts also believe that Covid’s lack of appropriate behavior could be the main culprit for the increase.
Virologists Shahid Jameel and T Jacob John agree that failure to follow the Covid-19 protocol, which includes informing people to continue with precautions even after being vaccinated, and a slow vaccination campaign are responsible for the increase. .
Speaking to PTI, Jameel said that the interaction of mutants and vaccines over the next several months will also decide the future of Covid in India and the world.
“The intensity of the increase also suggests that there were a lot of susceptible people after the first wave,” the director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University in Haryana told PTI.
The fact that people let their guard down and didn’t follow Covid protocols after the first wave ended is “certainly a valid explanation” for the increase, Jameel said.
“Everything that opens up to pre-Covid levels and behavior that was no longer averse to risk exposed the susceptible population in a major way. A new factor is emerging mutants, both imported and homegrown,” added the eminent. virologist.
John, a professor of virology at Tamil Nadu’s Christian Medical College (CMC), agreed with Jameel, saying that not following Covid-19 protocols is partly to blame for the new wave.
“The lowering of the guard was led by the central government and followed by all political parties, all religious groups and the general public. Schools and universities were opened without vaccinating all personnel. This partly explains the second wave.” John told PTI.
“Wherever the infection increased, a stricter imposition of discipline should have been taken, but with the elections ahead, no leader wanted that. Elections during the pandemic had to be carefully planned,” the renowned virologist told PTI.
Dr. Gauri Agarwal, Founder and Director of the Genestrings Diagnostic Center, told ANI that violation of Covid regulations is now rampant across the country.
“The main reason for the increase in cases is rampant violation of COVID protocols. Since the end of last year, we have seen how careless people have been following the protocols and this increase in cases is no surprise.
‘Variants are also to blame’
The scientist also agreed that variants are the other reason for the second wave, adding that it was too late for India to look for mutants.
“The two factors came together and we did not have a leader in response at the critical moment. The speed of propagation in the second wave is twice as fast as in the first wave. Partly due to the variations and partly due to the drop in the guard, “John explained.
Referring to a Health Ministry briefing on March 24, Jameel noted that UK variants now appear in about 80 percent of Punjab cases.
“A new double mutant has emerged in India and is reported in 15-20 percent of cases analyzed in Maharashtra. If this percentage increases further, it would be a clear indication of its role in the rise of Maharashtra,” said the virologist .
Dr Aggarwal said that a deep understanding of mutations is required.
“The other factor (behind the increase) may be the various mutations of the virus, some of which may have been more transmissible than others. However, a deeper understanding of mutant strains and their virulence is needed through genome sequencing. of more samples, “he said.
In India, variants identified for the first time have been found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
The government has said that it is difficult to relate the current increase to the mutant strains detected in the country. saying that the relationship between the two remains “speculative”.
In late March, the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) announced that a new variant had been identified in saliva samples taken from people in Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab.
Genome sequencing carried out by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), a consortium of 10 Indian laboratories, identified two major mutations in the so-called “double mutant” variant.
Explaining that the UK variant is known to be about 50 percent more infectious, Jameel said that one of the two mutations in the double mutant was also found in California, USA, where it was associated with increased transmission. .
Slow rate of vaccinations?
The two experts also discussed the country’s vaccination campaign.
According to John, the government started the campaign too late and no vaccination target was defined.
“India started a slow launch of vaccines in the third week of January, but first it was a token reward for healthcare workers who were vaccinated even when there was no need, and we wasted a lot of vaccines,” he said.
“Was an advance purchase order issued to vaccine companies to accelerate production over the past year before approvals were obtained?” John asked.
Jameel said there was “miscommunication” by officials with people who were vaccinated about how they should continue with precautions such as masks and social distancing. Describing the Covid-19 situation in India as “curious,” Jameel said the country was on a downward curve of daily infections when vaccinations began in mid-January.
“For various reasons, those eligible, including healthcare and frontline workers, were hesitant to receive vaccinations. Those over 60 also did not show enough enthusiasm even though cases had started to rise in early March.
“We are now on a very fast ascent curve with only 0.7 percent of Indians receiving both doses and only 5 percent receiving one dose. That is too low to have an impact,” he added.
The Chairman of the Health and Pharmaceutical Council, Dr. Gurpreet Sandhu, told ANI that abstinence from vaccines needs to be addressed in India.
“Despite the best efforts of the authorities, the ongoing pandemic has brought to light some of the inequalities in access to health care that continue to plague our country. In the meantime, questions about vaccines need to be addressed in several parts of the country. Therefore, it is necessary to reinvigorate our efforts to spread the “good word” about vaccines in all corners of the country. This would also help to achieve health equity in the country. With the vaccination campaign underway , a certain amount of overconfidence and negligent behavior is in evidence, “he said.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)

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