Monday, August 8, 2022

Fourth covid wave

With surge in daily cases of Covid 19 in India, there are fears that Covid vaccine including the mandated third booster does has not helped prevent infection as well as re-infection. At present, these re-infection trends are being spearheaded by the Omicron variant and its closely related subvariants, all of which have evolved to possess the power to partially dodge immunity. This highly infectious variant has diminished vaccines’ ability to prevent most re-infections, leaving everyone – those previously infected as well as those vaccinated and boosted — at risk of multiple bouts of COVID. The main rampaging virus is the mutated Omicron Covid-19 in India. This has raised a debate regarding boosters shots of the Covid-19 vaccine. Some experts, however, believe that there are several concerns that need to be addressed before any booster dose is approved. Global shreds of evidence, incidentally, suggest that fully-vaccinated people or even those with booster doses are being infected with Omicron as well. In India, too, there have been plenty instances of individuals testing COVID positive on two or three separate occasions since 2020 (albeit due to different variants) — and that’s despite reduced testing and not accounting for the asymptomatic cases. But they may very well get re-infected for the fourth and fifth time in the months and years to come, according to experts. It may be recalled that during the first and second wave of COVID-19 pandemic there was the assumption that a one-time infection or a vaccine dose would provide with life-long immunity against the novel coronavirus. As already evident, the virus is here to stay, and its future is likely to involve persistent waves of infections occurring several times a year. According to medical scientists, there is clearly possibility that the rising cases of covid-19 and its mutants point to a fourth pandemic wave. After a series of mutations and variations, the coronavirus now seems to have gained mastery at re-infecting people. In countries like the US and South Africa, where Omicron subvariants BA.2 and BA.4/BA.5 are currently dominant, individuals that were previously infected by the ‘original’ Omicron are already reporting second infections due to the newer versions. There are scientists who believe that as long as the current Omicron subvariants remain dominant, the infections will be less severe but more frequent, with the potential to recur every three or four months.At present, two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to people above 18 years of age under the adult vaccination programme for Covid-19. The gap between two doses of Covishield and Covaxin is 12 and 4 weeks respectively. There is no denying the fact that a booster dose increases the level of antibody in an individual. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the high antibody, acquired with the help of vaccines, can prevent infection from the variants of SARS-CoV-2.According to Dr.Jaiprakash Muliyil, eminent epidemiologist and chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Institute of Epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is “almost unstoppable” and everyone will eventually be infected with it. Perhaps that is proving to be true and will herald the fourth pandemic wave though not as severe as the second.

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