A health worker preparing the Covid vaccination syringe for a beneficiary at a vaccination center in Mandir Marg on July 21, 2021 in New Delhi, India.
Hindustan times | Hindustan times | Getty Images
The Delta variant was first discovered in India last October and resulted in a massive second wave of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Since then, the highly contagious strain has spread around the world.
The variant has usurped the previously dominant alpha variant, which was first discovered in Great Britain last fall, and triggered further waves of infections in Europe and a threatening increase in cases in the USA
In fact, the Delta variant now accounts for 83% of all sequenced cases in the U.S., said the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky, on Tuesday, marked a dramatic 50% increase in the week of July 3rd.
The World Health Organization has already warned that due to the estimated transmission benefit of the Delta variant, “it is expected to quickly overtake other variants and become the dominant circulating line” in the coming months.
In its latest weekly report on Wednesday, the WHO found that the prevalence of Delta among the specimens sequenced in the past four weeks in many countries worldwide including Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Israel, Portugal, Russia , Singapore, South Africa and the UK
WHO map showing the global prevalence of variants
World Health Organization
But what about India, where the Delta variant first appeared in October?
The situation is still bad, data shows, but not as bad as it was when the second wave peaked in the country, when there were more than 400,000 new cases daily. On May 7, India reported a staggering 414,188 new infections and several thousand deaths.
Fortunately, cases have decreased significantly since then. India reported 41,383 new coronavirus infections and 507 new deaths on Thursday, the Indian Ministry of Health tweeted.
The seven-day average of 38,548 new cases every day is a 3% decrease from the previous average, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Our World in Data.
Meanwhile, the percentage change in the number of newly confirmed cases in the past seven days (compared to the number in the previous seven days) is sharp in parts of Europe and the United States.
In France, the percentage change in the number of new cases in the last seven days is 223%, in Italy 112% and in Germany 50%. In the US, the percentage change over the past seven days is 58% higher than the previous seven-day period.
Nevertheless, according to Johns Hopkins data, India has the second highest number of registered Covid cases worldwide, with more than 31.2 million cases and almost 419,000 fatalities.
During the first wave of the pandemic, India went into a nationwide lockdown in March 2020, which was only lifted in June last year with a series of easings over the following summer months.
However, when the second (and much tougher) wave hit in early 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi resisted pressure to reinstate a national lockdown and instead made individual states responsible for reinstating restrictions. A member of the prime minister’s economic advisory council defended the Modi government when it came under pressure in May, telling CNBC that state governments should have the final say on social restrictions.
Additionally, in order to deal with the crisis, India has stopped exporting Covid vaccines (a domestic version is being produced by AstraZeneca University Oxford called “Covishield”) and is not expected to resume exports until the end of the year .
Public health experts told the Financial Times in late May that regional lockdowns, decreased social interaction and increasing levels of antibodies to Covid in the general population are helping to lower the infection rate in India. Vaccinations have also helped continue the downward trend in cases.
Exposure to the coronavirus during the second wave was illustrated in the latest data showing the prevalence of antibodies to Covid in the general population.
A national blood serum poll that performed antibody tests (known as the Sero Poll) was released Tuesday and showed that two-thirds of the Indian population have antibodies to Covid, Reuters reported, although about 400 million of India’s 1.36 billion People did not have antibodies, the survey found.
Monitoring one of the largest vaccination campaigns in the world (India has to vaccinate around a billion adults) is no easy task and the overall vaccination rate remains sluggish compared to other countries around the world.
Our World in Data figures show that 87.5 million people (around 6.3% of the total population, including children) are fully vaccinated, while 330.2 million people have received at least one dose of people who are fully vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Modi expressed concern about a “significant” number of health care workers and frontline workers who have still not been vaccinated, even though the vaccination program started more than six months ago.
In a press release released by the government in which senior officials briefed on the Covid situation in India, Modi also spoke of the need to “remain vigilant about the situation in different countries,” noting that “mutations make this disease very unpredictable. and so we must all stand together and fight this disease. “
Chandrakant Lahariya, a New Delhi-based doctor who is also an expert on vaccines, public order and health systems, told CNBC that India is not out of the woods yet.
“The results of the fourth national sero survey … confirm what many had suspected: 67.6% of the total population and 62% of those who have not been vaccinated have developed antibodies (against Covid). Almost all age groups over 6 years have antibodies. This shows the extent of the virus spread in the second wave, “he noted.
“We know that [the] The vaccination rate is lower than expected and the Covid-compatible behavior is not optimal. With 400 million of the population still vulnerable, it would be like inviting the next wave ahead of time to abandon our vigilance. India needs to be fully prepared for each subsequent wave. What is happening in Indonesia, Vietnam or Great Britain is an alarm bell that no country can lose its vigilance and [that they] have to do everything in their arsenal, “he added.
The emergence of several significant varieties of concerns around the world (such as alpha, beta and delta), which then become widespread, “reaffirms how connected we are in this pandemic,” Lahariya continued.
“This is a reminder that we must view the challenges of a pandemic as one global community. It reminds us that we need all interventions and vaccine availability as our shared responsibility safe ‘must be repeated until it is understood at all levels, “he said.
Lahariya believed that more variants would emerge as the pandemic progressed. “We should be prepared for further variants until the pandemic is declared over.” Nobody knows where these variants will appear next.