Omicron not fatal but third wave possible: India’s top health expert


New Delhi: Omicron variant is not fatal but India should not rule out the possibility of a third COVID-19 wave amid the emerging scenario, said Dr Vikas Bhatia, Executive Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bibinagar on Saturday.

While talking to ANI about the new coronavirus variant, Dr Bhatia said that more information is needed to ascertain the exact threat of the virus but it so far seems non-fatal.

About a potential third wave of COVID, Bhatia noted that India should be prepared to fight a possible “third wave” which may be caused by the emerging Omicron variant keeping in mind its high transmissibility but possibly low fatality.

“It is very difficult to predict because, and even at this point of time when more than 30 countries have reported one or more cases, we are still waiting for some more information. So, in this phase, we should be preparing ourselves that a third wave may come but at the same time, it may be good news in case we find that this particular virus Omicron is not very fatal. So far, no death has been reported from any part of the world,” Dr Bhatia told ANI.

The health expert further added that the Omicron symptoms have been reported to be mild in most cases but one needs to be careful because its transmission rate is reportedly higher.

“It might be a mild disease. It is possibly being observed in some countries such as South Africa that the gap between the infection and the manifestation of the disease is a little longer. And when it is longer than the Delta virus, it is likely to be transmitting and infecting more and more people. Now in case, the transmission rate is high, but its killing power is low, then it can transmit and generate immunity among the people,” he told ANI.

Dr Bhatia also opined that the vaccination will surely play a role and reduce the fatality level in people even if the Omicron variant turns out to be a concern.

“Decline in the oxygen levels and the case fatality rates, they are our main concern. If those concern us more, we should not be bothering too much about the transmission of the disease. Because the vaccination programme is also going on,” he said.

The health expert also added that ‘Hybrid Immunity’ will help India combat any further outbreak of the virus as it is very high in India.

“The different surveys which have been done, they have given information that more than 70- 80 per cent of the population has already been exposed to the COVID infection, which means they have the antibodies in them. Simultaneously, we know that nearly 126 crore people until yesterday have also been vaccinated either with one dose or with two doses. So, it means that the hybrid immunity in India is very high. And the scientific evidence which has come forward is that people with hybrid immunity have better protection, Bhatia told ANI.

India has so far reported three confirmed cases of Omicron, two in Karnataka and one in Gujarat.

(With inputs from ANI)

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