Vaccine booster doses will not stop Omicron infections: Top expert
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus will gradually infect everybody as it is "unstoppable," a top medical expert told NDTV. Moreover, the quick spread of the virus will not get affected by booster vaccine shots, said Dr. Jaiprakash Muliyil, Chairperson, Scientific Advisory Committee, National Institute of Epidemiology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Omicron has spread worldwide in spite of booster vaccinations, he said.
Why does this story matter?
- Omicron is a highly mutated variant of the coronavirus and is considered highly transmissible.
- Since it was first detected in South Africa in November 2021, the variant has spread to over 100 countries in nearly three months.
- Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) had cautioned that Delta and Omicron variants will result in a "tsunami" of cases, disrupting health systems.
'Omicron mild, but unstoppable'
Dr. Muliyil claimed that COVID-19 is no longer a frightening disease as the new variant is causing fewer hospitalizations. While Omicron is milder than Delta, it is "practically unstoppable," he said. He noted that 85% of India's population was already infected before India launched its vaccination drive in January 2021. Thus, India fared relatively better, he said, claiming that natural immunity could be lifelong.
Infections outrun pace of testing
Speaking on testing of asymptomatic contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Dr. Muliyil said the virus doubles infection in just two days. Hence, the infected person may have already transmitted the virus to others before being diagnosed with COVID-19, he said. "So even when you test, you are far, far behind," he said, adding that testing will not impact the evolution of the pandemic.
'No medical body recommended booster doses'
Further, Dr. Muliyal said no medical bodies had recommended booster vaccine doses. He said 80% of those infected "will not even know when we have it (COVID-19)." Precautionary doses were recommended by the government for people with weakened immunities (those aged over 60 years with comorbidities), he said. Simply having diabetes or heart disease does not mean "immunological incompetence," he added.
India's active cases rise to 9.5 lakh
As of Wednesday, India has reported a total of 3.6 crore COVID-19 cases, including 9.5 lakh active infections. In the past 24 hours, India added 1,94,720 fresh cases and 442 more deaths. The cumulative death toll has now risen to 4,84,655. The daily and the weekly test positivity rates stood at 11.05% and 9.82%, respectively. Thus far, India has also detected 4,868 Omicron cases.