Omicron cases in India will mostly be asymptomatic, expert says
Omicron will mostly cause asymptomatic disease in India, a top expert said. That is partly due to the nature of the new coronavirus variant, while a high rate of seropositivity among Indians could be another reason. Omicron is a fast-spreading strain of coronavirus but it causes a milder illness, initial data suggest. Here are more details on this.
Why does it matter?
- This will come as a sigh of relief even as Omicron cases are on the rise across India.
- The variant has been found to be as much as 4.2 times more transmissible in its early stage compared to the Delta strain, according to a study by a top Japanese scientist.
- It is also by far the most heavily mutated version of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
'India has the advantage of high seropositivity'
"India has the advantage of a very high rate of seropositivity of 70-80%, and in big cities more than 90% people already have antibodies," Rakesh Mishra, a top expert, told news agency PTI. Mishra is a former director of the Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research-Centre For Cellular And Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB). He also ruled out the possibility of a surge in hospitalizations.
67% Indians exposed to COVID-19
Mishra said new variants are bound to emerge, adding they're expected to be more infectious but milder than previous strains. Notably, a national-level serosurvey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revealed nearly 67% of people had been exposed to COVID-19 by July. The council had surveyed 36,227 people across 21 states. In Delhi, over 90% have developed antibodies, said the latest serosurvey.
33 Omicron cases in India
Currently, there are 33 Omicron cases in India spread across five states and union territories. Maharashtra has the highest number of cases at 17, forcing the administration to impose fresh restrictions. Others that have reported cases of Omicron are Delhi (two cases), Rajasthan (nine), Gujarat (three), and Karnataka (two). The patients are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms such as cold and low fever.