Omicron update: ‘UK’s current 80,000 tally would have been 1.4 million at India’s population level’

India already has 101 patients infected with the latest Variant of Concern in 11 states

By Taran Deol
Published: Friday 17 December 2021

The Union health ministry has pressed the on another possible spike in the number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases even as 11 states have now reported patients infected with omicron — the latest Variant of Concern for the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr VK Paul, member-health, Niti Aayog, pointed towards the “new phase” of pandemic in Europe that has reported a steep rise in cases. “If we do a population level analysis, the 80,000 cases in the United Kingdom currently reported would equal 14 lakh (1.4 million) in India,” he warned December 17, 2021.

Indian Council of Medical Research Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava stressed on the need to avoid non-essential travel.

Maharashtra, which has the highest COVID-19 tally among Indian states, also has the most number of omicron-related cases at 32. It is followed by Delhi (22 cases), Rajasthan (17), Karnataka and Telangana (eight each), Gujarat and Kerala (five each) and Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Chandigarh (one each).

Not gloomy yet

In the past 20 days though the numbers of new cases reported have been below 10,000; the positivity rate has been 0.65 per cent for the past week.

Kerala continued to account for the largest share of new cases at 40.31 per cent.

India has administered 1.36 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far, though most people are still not completely vaccinated. Also, there has been no decision yet on the administration of booster doses.

Paul said:

“We will offer this option when there is appropriate evidence and need. Let us first inoculate all adults with both doses.”

The ministry also noted that there was no data that the vaccines offered less protection against omicron.

The variant has been reported from 91 countries and the WHO has estimated it’s spread to be faster than delta in South Africa, Agrawal said. “It’s likely omicron will outpace delta variant where community transmission occurs, the WHO added,” he noted.

Whether omicron can lead to the disease as severe as delta or more is yet unclear.

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