WHO Chief scientist says India might be entering the endemic stage of COVID
World Health Organization (WHO) senior scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, said on Wednesday that India could have reached a certain level of endemicity according to the general COVID-19 situation.
What is an endemic stage?
When a disease-carrying virus gets confined to a particular population and causes recurrent outbreaks, the area has entered a stage of endemic. It is different from the epidemic stage, where it overwhelms the people with the fear of getting infected.
Here, the population are resigned to the fact that there is a chance they can get infected with the virus anytime and learn to live with it.
It is similar to how people have learnt to live with chickenpox, malaria and swine flu, as these diseases are challenging to get rid of completely.
The only disease that has been eradicated is smallpox. It was possible by orchestrating relentless mass vaccination campaigns.
Dr Swaminathan on COVID situation in India
On addressing the issue of the possibility of India entering the endemic stage of the epidemic Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief scientist, told a website, “We may be moving into a certain area where there is a low rate of transfer or a moderate rate of transfer, but we do not see the types of extreme growth and peaks we have seen in the past few months.”
She added that due to the vast Indian diversities, this situation might continue with highs and lows in different parts of the country.
Swaminathan added that this is especially true in areas where people are at risk of inclination. “So those groups that were less affected by the first and second waves may find themselves more susceptible in the next few months”.
The former Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also said, “No one has a crystal ball, and it is impossible to predict the third wave” and how long or nasty it will be.”
However, she said that while children could become infected in large numbers during the third wave, it was unlikely that they would become seriously ill. She said, in particular, there is no need to panic in this census, although it is recommended that you are ready for most infections in children.
Swaminathan on Indian drugs
Using drugs such as Remdesivir, HCQ or Ivermectin treatment, she said so far, there is no evidence that HCQ or Ivermectin have a role in reducing mortality or morbidity of HIV-infected people or preventing people from becoming infected.
Hence, there is no reason to make recommendations for using any of these therapeutic or preventive medications.
“Solidarity’s case has shown that Remdesivir does not reduce mortality, it may have a lower benefit for a group of patients who are sufficiently malnourished but not sufficiently sick to the point of respiration for side effects, but Remdesivir does not do much. And Oxygen is both life-saving,” she added.
With approval from Covaxin, she said the decision could be made hopefully by mid-September.
“Bharat Biotech sent its details in the third week of July, which was the first data, and then updated data that arrived in mid-August.
The committee has returned to the company with some questions that we should continue to answer now. It will happen soon after,” she said.
“So in mid-September, I think, and the reason it took so long is because of going back and forth, and the need for more information requested from the company, and this is a normal process. People think it takes longer with Covaxin than others, but it doesn’t.
Emergency Use Listing took this period of four to six to eight weeks to get all the necessary information,” she said.