As COVID cases surge, expert calls for monitoring situation

New Delhi: After India reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the last 100 days, a top expert said that the surge in COVID-19 infections isn’t a concern but it is necessary to closely monitor the severity of the virus.

According to Dr Sanjay Rai, Senior Epidemiologist at AIIMS, the surge in COVID-19 cases isn’t a concern but there is a needs to closely monitor severity, deaths, and hospitalization.

“In the current scenario, what matters is hospitalization or severity, the number of cases should not be of any concern,” he added.

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Further explaining the COVID-19 virus mutations, he said, “SARS CoV2 is RNA virus and in RNA virus mutations are happening not only in India throughout the world, but more than thousands of mutations have also already occurred. Although the variant of concerns is only five. We must monitor if the virus is increasing deaths and if the hospitalization is increasing, then definitely it’s a matter of concern,” Dr Rai added.

India has reported a significant spike in the cases of coronavirus infection as it reported 17,336 new cases of covid-19 in the last 24 hours as compared to the 13,313 total cases recorded on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry informed.

With the latest surge in infection, India’s active caseload stood at 88,284 at the rate of 0.20 per cent, which was 83,990 at the rate of 01.19 per cent a day before.

“We have generated a lot of pieces of evidence in the last two years. It’s not a new virus. In the last two years, whatever evidence we have, we can say that it’s very unlikely that the increase of cases will increase the number of hospitalizations and a high number of severity or deaths,” Dr Rai stated.

According to him, there is the chances of severity are low.

“This type of pandemic like COVID-19 disease that the future course will be gone by the level of protection. We know that there we have two types of protection. One is from the natural immunity and another one is from your vaccine-acquired immunity. The limitation of vaccine acquired immunity is certainly six to nine months and that’s why we require a booster dose for natural infection.”

Commenting on the risk of children who are not vaccinated as schools will open soon after summer vacation, the expert said, “The global evidence which we have generated a lot of evidence in the last two years have demonstrated that closing of a school is causing more harm to the children regarding infection.”

“Vaccines are not preventing infections, even after 100 per cent vaccination, few countries have reported a very large number of cases either in children or adult population. So, the vaccine mainly provides prevention from severity and deaths in case of children also.”

In view of an upsurge in COVID-19 cases in India, Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday reviewed the COVID-19 and vaccination situation in the country.

In a high-level meeting, Mandaviya advised strictly to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the country focusing on vaccination of the elderly population, school-going children and surveillance and genome sequencing.

India has been witnessing a high number of COVID-19 cases over the last couple of weeks. The Union Minister stressed the need to focus on districts reporting high case positivity and undertake adequate testing (with a higher proportion of RTPCR) and effective COVID-19 surveillance to assess and control the spread of infection in a timely manner.

Mandaviya directed the officials to continue to focus on surveillance and on whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to scan for any possible mutation.

He also directed monitoring of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and SARI/ILI cases. He also directed health authorities concerned to increase the pace of vaccination including booster doses in districts reporting high cases.

“As there are adequate vaccine doses available, let there be no vaccine wastage while focusing on accelerating vaccination among the eligible and vulnerable groups,” he directed.

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