No Covid surge, state may be shifting towards endemic stage: officials


With Maharashtra not witnessing any surge in Covid-19 cases in the last 15 days, state health department officials said this may point towards the pandemic turning into an endemic stage and the infection becoming a seasonal thing.

In December last week, when China witnessed a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases, there was speculation that India will also see a rise in infections. Maharashtra, which in the past had been the epicentre of the pandemic with the highest caseload, was put on high alert.

But the data of the last 15 days, between December 19, 2022 to January 3, shows the state has reported only 1,574 cases and 13 deaths. The test positivity rate (TPR) — the ratio of samples testing positive and the number of tests conducted – is below 0.05 per cent, which was 12 per cent last January.

Dr Pradeep Awate, the state surveillance officer, said that on an average, Maharashtra has been recording 20 to 30 cases daily. “This indicates a shift towards endemic, when the mass infection rate drops. We believe that just like other seasonal infections, Covid-19 will become one of them. Depending upon the seasonal variation, we may witness rise and drop in cases like in the case of swine flu,” he added.

With the Covid-19 surge in China being driven by the BF.7 Omicron sub-variant, the government have been sending all Covid-19 positive samples for genome sequencing. However, Maharashtra hasn’t reported any case of the variant so far.

Asked if in future, there is a surge in cases in Maharashtra, Awate said, “Due to the infection rate in the state – already over 81 lakh people have been infected – the severity of the infection would be less. In China, due to stringent rules, many people didn’t get infected but later contracted the virus when restrictions were removed.”

“In Maharashtra or even in India, due to the high infection rate, we have been able to achieve herd immunity. So, the possibility of another outbreak like China is facing is less,” he added.

Dr Sanjith Saseedharan, head of Critical Care at S L Raheja Hospital in hospital, said: “India has been able to successfully control Covid-19 because a large proportion of the population has been vaccinated and been infected multiple times, leading to the development of hybrid immunity. This hybrid immunity may have resulted in reduced severity of symptoms, and a lower likelihood of another wave in India.”

However, it is important to continue performing genomic analysis frequently to look for new, potentially more virulent and immune-evasive mutations, said Saseedharan. “This will help identify any potentially dangerous variants in advance. As a country, our track record suggests that we are well-prepared for any future waves.”


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