Omicron: IMA warns of 'massive' third wave of COVID-19
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has warned about a severe third wave of COVID-19 in India amid the threat posed by the Omicron variant. The top medical body said taking precautionary measures is key to combating the challenge. Omicron is a heavily mutated coronavirus variant that has infected nearly two dozen people across India. Here are more details on this.
- IMA's warning comes at a time when cases of Omicron have multiplied in the country in less than a week.
- It is said to be the most heavily mutated strain of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
- Early data suggests it spreads fast but the illness may be mild.
- Five Indian states have detected cases - Maharashtra (10), Karnataka (two), Rajasthan (nine), Gujarat (one), and Delhi (one).
The IMA said Omicron is highly transmissible and will affect more people considering the available evidence and experience observed in other countries. "At a time when India is limping back to normalcy, this is a great setback. If we do not take adequate measures, we may have a massive third wave," association members said at a press conference on Monday.
The IMA demanded the inoculation of people in the 12-18 age group - a proposal that has been pending for long. It further called for the administration of booster doses to healthcare and frontline workers in view of the Omicron threat. "At this juncture, IMA also appeals to the government to officially announce additional dose be given to healthcare, frontline workers and immunocompromised individuals."
Omicron has some 50 mutations including over 30 in its spike protein alone. It was first reported from southern Africa where it is also most prevalent. It has not been linked to severe disease or death as yet. Scientists around the world are working to understand how effective existing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are against the new strain.
Meanwhile, IIT-Kanpur professor Manindra Agrawal said a third wave of coronavirus infections will likely peak in India between January and February 2022 with cases reaching up to 1.5 lakh a day. But the fresh outbreak is expected to be milder, he stated.