India is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with the Omicron XBB variant identified as the primary cause. Despite this, senior Health Ministry officials have assured the public that the situation is under control and there is no need to panic.
Surge Not a Cause for Panic
According to Health Ministry figures, India reported 7,830 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, which is the highest in over seven months. However, senior Health Ministry officials have stated that the severity of the variant is currently below average and the lethality of the virus has been significantly reduced.
“The lethality of the virus has been reduced significantly. It’s not even half of what it was earlier,” the official said. The Health Ministry has assessed the efficiency of vaccines against the XBB subvariant of Covid and has confirmed that it is not fatal.
In terms of booster shots, the central government has decided not to purchase them, leaving the responsibility to the state governments. The demand for boosters has been very low in the past few months. The official added, “most of the assigned variants have little or no significant disease severity.”
Rise in Covid Cases Expected
The official concluded that there will be a further rise in cases for the next 8-10 days, after which a decline is expected. However, caution is required, and the government has instructed states to ensure genome sequencing of all positive cases in the country and to step up efforts to curb any possible spread during the upcoming festive season.
India has witnessed two deadly waves of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 but has seen low infection levels this year. Over 2.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far in the country. The rise in cases is a reminder that the pandemic is not over, and people need to continue to take precautions to protect themselves and others.
Amidst the tensed situation, Chinese scientist, Tong Yigang, of the Beijing University of Chemical Technology has suggested that the Covid-19 virus may have originated from humans. Speaking at a press conference hosted by the Chinese State Council regarding research into the virus, Mr. Tong claimed, the genetic sequences of viral samples taken from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan thought to be the ground zero site of the pandemic, were “almost identical” to those of patients infected with the virus, suggesting that COVID-19 may have originated from humans.
At the same event, a Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researcher, Zhou Lei, called for global scientific collaboration in tracing the origins of the virus, stating, the site where COVID-19 was first discovered was not necessarily where it originated. The call for collaboration follows criticism of China for blocking international investigations into the virus’s origins, including the World Health Organization’s (WHO) lack of access to key data from China.
Debates surrounding the origins of the virus were reignited recently after an assessment by the US Department of Energy, which suggested that it was most likely the result of an accident in a laboratory. However, Zhou Lei rejected the lab leak theory as “extremely unlikely,” and WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that the organization would continue to push until an answer to how the pandemic started was found.
Overall, while the rise in cases is a cause for concern, the Health Ministry officials have urged caution and not panic. The situation is being monitored closely, and the government has taken steps to ensure that the spread is curbed. The rise in cases is a reminder that the pandemic is not over, and people need to continue taking precautions to protect themselves and others.