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US heath expert: India will have Omicron wave peak by next month

2022 Jan 08, 7:30,
Dr Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Chair of the Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington. Photo: ANI

India will witness a peak in the number of COVID-19 cases by next month with the expectation of reporting five lakh cases per day, a US-based health expert said, adding that however "the severity of the variant will be less this time in the country than Delta variant."

Dr Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and Chair of the Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington said: "You are entering the Omicron wave, as many countries around the world are, and we expect that there will be more cases per day at the peak than you had in April last year for the Delta wave, but Omicron is much less severe."

"So, while you will have many cases and set records probably for cases. It should be less of an impact on the severity of the disease. We currently have in the models that we will release later, we expect about five lakh cases at the peak, which should come in during the next month," he added.

As many experts in India say that the country has hybrid immunity due to which Omicron will be less effective, Dr Murray said: "What we know from a place like South Africa where there was a tremendous amount of prior infection, both Delta as well as Beta. Vaccination doses provide considerable protection for severe disease, from hospitalisation and death, which is why we think there will be many Omicron cases in India, but much less hospitalization and death than you had in the Delta wave."

Speaking about the number of hospitalizations and severity due to the variant, he said: "We expect that 85.2 per cent of infections will have no symptoms. They will be asymptomatic, but amongst the cases, we still expect quite a number of them to end up in hospitals and in terms of death, cases will be much reduced. So we expect that the peak of hospital admissions in India will be about a quarter of what you had for the Delta wave, and deaths should be less of what you saw for Delta."

According to some experts, further spread of Omicron may lead to other mutations. Talking about it Dr Murray said: "The thing about mutations is that they're random. So, the more transmission there is, the more potential there is for mutations to occur. But in the setting of this rapid transmission of Omicron, it's going to be very difficult in the next month or two for a new variant to meet Omicron because it's so transmissible."

Dr Christopher Murray further spoke over the new variant with multiple mutations in France.

"There are mutations all the time, and you can identify variants with many mutations but the thing that we look for, is that within, you know, 30 to 45 days after a new mutation appears, has it spread as it spread like Omicron, so far, that mutation has been around for quite some time in France. And it has not spread so we are not currently learned about that mutation."

"Omicron is 90 to 95 per cent, less severe, but there is still a segment of individuals, particularly older individuals who will get sick. So, there will be an increase. It's just a much smaller increase in hospitalizations," he said. 


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