The Omicron Led COVID-19 Third Wave Is A Reality Now As USA, Europe Get Ready: India Must Gear Up Fast!

 


This is exactly the situation last year when India was in a very complacently satisfied position boasting of conquering the COVID-19 pandemic and a surge of new cases were happening across the US and European countries. And then, the disastrous Second Wave happened in India. In fact, we mentioned in one of our previous pieces that the most the most heard and seen expert had warned that a surge in the western countries normally ignite a wave in India. Now too, India is in a very comfortable situation with total COVID-19 cases still hovering 6000 daily and Omicron cases just above 200 across 12 states while in USA the Omicron variant has become the dominant virus rising from just 3% of total cases to 73% in one week and the variant has been fast emerging as the dominant virus in UK, Denmark, Norway and other European countries. A COVID-19 Third Wave thus is very much a reality now in those countries and considering its unbelievable contagiousness it may lead to a third wave in India too early next year, like last year. The only difference this time is that about 60% of India’s population is now double vaccinated and the Government has been showing all signs of alertness that was lacking last time. However, the efficacy of the existing vaccines has been under sharp scrutiny and it is more or less proved that the efficacy will be less against the new variant in preventing infections or reinfections.

 

It is very difficult at the moment to get a comprehensive Omicron-cases dashboard globally, and therefore, we’ll have to rely on various news sources and experts’ opinions. In terms of Omicron cases the United Kingdom has been on top with more than 45000 cases, followed by Denmark and Norway. But as per the statistics in the US the daily infections there are over 250,000 in the last 24 hours and in view of the Omicron being the dominant virus the numbers there should be on top of the list. One source puts the total number of Omicron cases there at around 260,000. President Biden, perhaps sensing another uprising against more curbs, has advised the fully vaccinated persons to make travel plans in view of Christmas and the New Year holidays, and to boost up testing; and maybe due to similar apprehensions most European countries are enforcing post-Christmas curbs. Only the Netherlands becomes the first country to impose a lockdown till mid-January. Israel is the first country to have administered the fourth jab to its citizens. Other countries of the world like Canada, South Korea, Japan and Australia are also being impacted by the surge of new cases.

 

All countries must follow the advisories issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) the latest of which warns that the Third Wave might push the health systems of the affected countries beyond the breaking point due to the exponential spreading capability of Omicron and it has been asking all to administer the booster doses as double-vaccination is seen to be not enough at the moment. The WHO has also advised people across the globe to suspend all holiday travel plans, apart from strictly observing the other norms.

 

Coming to India, the Government on Tuesday, the 21st of December, 2021, had sounded an alert that the Omicron variant is at least three-times more transmissible than Delta and advised all the states to activate their war rooms, to ramp up testing and genome sequencing and consider imposing curbs like night curfew in the most affected districts. Several states have already imposed curbs like section-144, ban on large gatherings and Karnataka becoming the first state so far to ban all Christmas and New Year celebrations and parties. When most of the western countries are more less set to miss the festivities twice in a row the Indians should not be much concerned about missing out on these. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi will take a review meeting on Thursday, the 23rd of December 2021 on the Omicron situation in the country. The real concern is now that people are in a celebratory mood and elections are round the corner.

 

In terms of Omicron numbers Maharashtra again leads with 65 cases so far followed closely by Delhi with 54 and other states with lesser figures. However, the real picture of the spread of the new virus may be quite different; because of the laxity in testing and tracing aggressively and the slow process of genome sequencing apart from many people almost giving up the masks. Fortunately, so far, most of the 213 Omicron patients are either asymptomatic and showing only mild symptoms. It is almost certain that the numbers will grow exponentially soon thanks to its unbelievable transmissibility, but the uncertainty about if it would be less severe than the Delta or any other mutant rages on.

 

Experts are divided in their opinions; some say there is no evidence to suggest that Omicron would be less severe than Delta while others maintain the lack of sufficient data to say anything now. An expert from South Africa while speaking to a news channel had a very radical view: he said it’d be better to be infected with Omicron allowing it to run its course as the resultant illness would be milder and most importantly, it’d immunize the infected against most of the mutants of SARS-Cov-2 virus; this view is again a vote for achieving herd immunity the harder way which can always turn too costly in terms of lives lost. Whatever it eventually turns out to be, it is always better to get ready for anything.

 


Christmas and New Year festivities are going to return next year too, but the lives lost due to non-caring attitudes are gone forever. What Santa Claus must be saying? Well, he’d definitely advise you enjoy his company only in your respective homes with dear members of your family; no indoor parties or outdoor celebrations; no holidaying; COVID appropriate behavior at all times; putting on the masks does not affect your cheerful spirit inside and does not in any way hide your identity; you can also celebrate with your friends virtually; and taking all such precautions and following the restrictions would certainly ensure better times next year. You may retort the same things were told last year too. But you must understand that this virus is without parallels in the history of humankind and we must have patience till the time when the pandemic prefers finally to leave us alone. Merry Christmas!

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