COVID-19 may become endemic in 6 months in India: Expert
COVID-19 may start becoming an endemic in India in the next six months, according to Dr. Sujeet Singh, the Director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). That means the disease will continue to prevail in the population but will become less severe and easier to manage. Several other experts have also made similar projections about the coronavirus. Here's more on this.
"This pandemic has defied most of our predictions but in the next six months, we will approach endemic status," Dr. Singh said in an interview with NDTV. "If the mortality and morbidity is under control, then we can manage the disease (sic)."
A disease is said to be in an endemic stage when it is perpetually present but limited to a particular population or area, causing repeated outbreaks there. However, the spread of the disease remains predictable, according to experts. A common example of an endemic virus is the seasonal flu. Other examples include chickenpox and malaria, prevalent in many countries.
Earlier, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Chief Scientist, had made a similar statement about COVID-19. "We may be entering some kind of stage of endemicity where there is low level transmission or moderate level transmission going on but we are not seeing the kinds of exponential growth and peaks that we saw a few months ago," she said last month.
India has seen a decrease in daily COVID-19 cases over the last week. In the past 24 hours, the country reported 30,570 fresh infections and 431 deaths. Infections are mainly driven by Kerala, which registers 60-70% of total daily cases, even though the pandemic has subsided in most states. India's deadly second wave had peaked in May at 4,14,000 cases.
Since beginning its vaccination program in January this year, India has administered over 75 crore doses. Over 41% of the population have received at least one shot while more than 13% are fully vaccinated. At the current rate, 43% of the country's population will be covered by December. India had set a goal to inoculate all adults by the end of this year.
A third wave of the pandemic is expected to hit India between September and October. However, experts say it may not be as severe as the devastating second wave. "Just a new variant cannot cause a third wave. The factor will be a mix of behavior and antibodies. There is some worry because of the festival season," Dr. Singh said.