Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Waning immunity, dropped precautions: IMA Covid Task Force Co-Chairman on rising cases


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New Delhi, March 29: Daily new Covid cases in India jumped to a 5-month high of 2,151 on Wednesday and health experts have started cautioning the public over the looming threat of the disease’s next possible outbreak.

Talking to IANS, Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, Co-Chairman, National IMA COVID Task Force and former President, Indian Medical Association, said that the gradual waning of immunity, dropping of precautions, and genetic mutations are some reasons for the rising cases.

“Covid-19 is a cyclical viral disease, which means that periodically there will be surges. Reasons include gradual waning of immunity, dropping of precautions, greater mingling, travel, and genetic mutations that allow the virus to escape the human immune response from either vaccination, prior infection or both.

“The good news is that all the recent sublineages isolated from India are exclusively Omicron, which unlike Delta, is less likely to directly attack the lungs. However, Omicron is known to aggravate underlying disease conditions and result in serious outcomes, especially in older people. It is also known to cause less severe disease among vaccinated adults,” he said.

Dr Jayadevan also said that what makes Covid-19 difficult to contain is its ability to repeatedly infect the same person, regardless of prior infection or vaccination.

“Multiple strategies have to be followed at once to reduce the total disease burden in the community, and on hospitals. The strategy also must include keeping elderly people safe, especially during times of surge, for instance, by staying away from crowded indoor gatherings in ill-ventilated spaces. Masking and triaging at hospitals will help reduce the spread of virus from Covid patients to others, some of whom might be in the vulnerable category,” he said.

He also warned that even though the symptoms might be similar to that of a common cold or flu, Covid can also affect the inner lining of blood vessels, which can lead to vascular complications in the long run. Hence, it is always better to avoid getting infected.

“Despite a significant increase in vaccination rates in recent months, India still has a large population who have not received their booster doses. This means that the virus can still easily spread among those who have not received a booster vaccine,” Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder & Director of the Ujala Cygnus group of Hospitals, told IANS.

Dr Bajaj said that though vaccines are not 100 per cent effective, and some vaccinated individuals may still get infected with the virus. These so-called ‘breakthrough infections’ are usually mild or asymptomatic, but in some cases, they can still cause severe illness.

“In terms of who will be the most affected, it is difficult to say for certain. However, the unvaccinated population, particularly those who are older or have underlying health conditions, may be at higher risk for severe illness and death,” he said.

In wake of sudden rise in cases, the Health Ministry on Monday held a high-level meeting to review preparedness status of the entire spectrum of management of the pandemic with states and UTs through Video Conference.


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