The disproportionate rise in COVID-19 infections in India, which has pushed the country to record hospital admissions and deaths, has surprised scientists who estimated that the worst epidemic has already passed. One of the most populous countries in the world.
Part of this confidence, for example, was in the results of antibodies to the virus found in analyzes conducted in Delhi and Chennai, two of the most populous cities in India, which showed that the vast majority of their population He already had COVID-19.
Zrier Odwadia, Clinical Researcher in Pulmonology at PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Center, Mumbai, told the website nature The current state of the epidemic is a “nightmare”.
“The second wave made the last wave look like a wave in the bathtub,” he said.
With the epidemic now reaching staggering numbers (more than 250,000 new cases and more than 1,700 deaths in the past 24 hours), scientists are analyzing whether the following factors are responsible for this phenomenon.
If it is the most contagious group of variants; The relaxation of social distancing measures and the slow process of vaccination are behind this phenomenon.
The most aggressive variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) this week reported the discovery of a new variant It contains a double boom in India. The group sees the variable behind the uncontrolled rise in injuries.
“The presence of two of these mutations, which have been seen in other variants around the world, is of concern,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s chief technical director on COVID.
Variable B.1.617 mutations confer greater transmissibility to the pathogen and the ability to evade immune protection. So far it has been reported in 20 countries.
Noted Udwadia, a pulmonologist nature The reversal of the effect of more contagious variables is in fact now Whole families They report being infected with SARS-CoV-2. In the first wave of infections, isolated cases were reported.
Relaxing social distancing measures
The numbers of new cases in this country began to decline for nearly half a year, in September, after more than 100,000 new cases were counted daily.
The situation led to “Triumph” behaviorWhich saw the country’s Minister of Health Harsh Vardan announce that the country of more than 1.3 billion people has reached the “bottom line” of the epidemic.
Thus, in recent weeks, the authorities have allowed Hindu festivals to take place without any restrictions on crowds and have refused to suspend elections in West Bengal.
Specialists believe that the large groups of people who met without using any kind of protection contributed to the spread of the virus that is now reflected in the overcrowded hospitals.
Slow grafting process
India is one of the leading countries producing doses against COVID-19 and has a locally developed vaccine, Covaxin, 100% efficacy against severe COVID cases and 78% overall.
The nation started the fertilization process in January, not far in time from campaigns by other countries like the US or the UK. However, this fact may have motivated people to relax their prevention measures.
“The arrival of the vaccine put everyone in a relaxed state of mind,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, an epidemiologist at Princeton University in New Delhi.
And while more than 120 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have been applied (which requires two doses to ensure the best protection), the vaccination plan barely covered 10 percent of the population.
Jagandeep Kang, a virologist at the Christian Medical College, said India especially needs to increase vaccines in the hardest hit areas.
“It is possible that the virus will reach groups that could have been protected in the past,” he said. nature.
With information from AP, Bloomberg, and Nature