Will Omicron Cause a Third Covid Wave in India? When is It Likely to Peak? Here's What Experts Say

While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity, the WHO has said.

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New Delhi: As Indian states start reporting cases of Omicron, the new variant of SARS-CoV2, queries about a third Covid wave have begun doing the rounds. Better than making assumptions, let's hear what experts have to say about it. Manindra Agarwal, an IIT scientist involved in the mathematical projection of trajectory of COVID-19, said the third wave of coronavirus could hit the peak by February with cases likely to be reaching up to 1-1.5 lakh a day in the country. However, it will be milder than the second wave, he said.

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He said in the new forecast, the new Omicron variant has been factored in. With the new variant, our current forecast is that the country could see the third wave by February but it will be milder than the second wave. So far we have seen that the severity of Omicron is not like the one seen in the Delta variant, Agarwal told PTI.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) backed Sutra-model had earlier said the third wave of coronavirus could hit the country by October if a new variant, more virulent and transmissible than the Delta, emerges. However, till November end, there was no new variant. It had then revised its forecast to November.

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Fresh data on virus, hospitalisations needed

Agarwal, however, said a close eye is being kept on cases in South Africa where many cases of this variant have been recorded. Agarwal added that as of now South Africa has not seen a rise in hospitalisation. He said a fresh set of data on the virus and hospitalisations would help in getting a more solid picture.

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Multiplying with an intensity of 4 to 16 times

Another expert on the matter from Telangana, State Director of Public Health and Family Welfare -- Srinivas Rao on Sunday said, "As we have seen in South Africa, the Omicron variant is increasing with an intensity of four to sixteen times within a span of one week to ten days. With this variant, the hospitalization rate and the death rate is low, so that is definitely a big relief but it has a characteristic of spreading fast. Wee should be very careful."

"From 10 countries, variant spread into 35 countries with 450 or 500 cases, so we have to wait and watch how is the variant is going to behave in coming days," Rao said, adding, "So with that assumption and epidemiological perspective, we are expecting a bit of surge in January or February in our country and state."

Mild lockdown to bring down cases

Manindra Agarwal said as observed during the spread of delta, a mild lockdown (night curfew, restrictions on crowding) can bring down beta substantially. That will significantly reduce the peak value, he added.

Things to know about Omicron

On November 26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the Covid-19 virus variant detected in South Africa and some other countries as Omicron. The WHO has also classified the Omicron variant as a 'Variant of Concern'. Experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics.

While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity. More information is expected in the next two weeks' time or so, it said.

India has so far reported 23 cases of the Omicron variant, including two on Monday - from Mumbai, 17 on Sunday - nine persons from Rajasthan capital Jaipur, seven in Maharashtra's Pune district and a fully vaccinated man who arrived in Delhi from Tanzania.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published Date:December 6, 2021 8:53 PM IST

Updated Date:December 6, 2021 9:56 PM IST

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