HomeBUSINESSCovid shaping up like common cold, but be cautious: NTAGI chief

Covid shaping up like common cold, but be cautious: NTAGI chief


NEW DELHI : Dr N.K. Arora, chairman of the government’s covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) said the disease is taking a shape of normal influenza. His comments, made in an interview, came even as 1,276 Indians died of covid-19 in the last 28 days, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. 

According to Arora, India is moving to a situation wherein people can start going back to their normal routine.  Arora said that more than 75% of hospitalizations with covid are of people who have not taken the booster dose. He said Gennova Pharma’s mRNA vaccine and Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine will be out soon. Edited excerpts:

Covid cases are constantly going up and down. Why is it happening? 

Around March, we saw around 1,000 covid-19 cases a day and it gradually increased to 15,000 to 20,000 in June and July. Again, for the last three weeks, cases have started to decline. Hence, one cannot be so certain why cases are going up and down, but there are a few scientific factors which influence this. First, when there is an increase in travel in the community, then infection spreads faster, or when there is a religious social function or any large political gathering. Second, we are looking at several sub-lineages of Omicron. Some are more infectious and transmissible. The third dimension is that over the last eight months, the testing rate has gone down drastically. While we were testing 1.5 to 2 million individuals every day in November and December, now it has come down to 200,000 to 400,000 per day and the reason is obvious—that we are not doing contact tracing as covid is very mild now. It is like a common cold, fever for a few days and there may be some throat symptoms, body aches which subside in 3 to 5 days. Many people are not getting themselves tested. Simultaneously, other viruses are also circulating. 

So, one is not sure whether it is covid or influenza virus. Over all, the number of cases which are being reported has to be seen as a trend in the community rather than absolute numbers. 

So covid will not be the way it was in the past? 

Fortunately, the severity associated with current covid variant or Omicron has been occurring. Only in those who are hospitalized and dying with covid infection… those individuals who have other severe co-morbidities like chronic heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, lung disease etc. So, they are hospitalized for their basic disease and accidentally being detected to have covid also. Primarily, covid causing severe disease is very uncommon and therefore, severe disease can occur particularly in those individuals who have underlying diseases. They can become very serious and therefore complacency should not be there. Covid is very much around us and we have to be careful. There is a bouquet of new covid vaccines on which India is working. These mRNA vaccine and intranasal vaccines have the potential for heterologous precaution dose as and when appropriate data is available. 

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