COVID-19 in India may be entering some kind of stage of endemicity where there is a low or moderate level of transmission going on, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation Dr Soumya Swaminathan said.
The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus. It’s very different from the epidemic stage when the virus overwhelms a population.
“It will be impossible to predict when, where the third wave will be upon us and if at all a third wave will come,” she said.
She also stated she hopes that by the end of 2022 “we would be in that position that we have achieved vaccine coverage, say 70%, and then countries can get back to normal”.
Speaking to news website The Wire, Swaminathan said given the size of India and heterogeneity of population and immunity status in different parts of the country, it is “very very feasible” that the situation may continue like this with ups and downs in various parts of the nation.
On prevalence of Covid among children, Swaminathan said parents need not panic. “We can take from the sero survey and what we learnt from other countries also that while it is possible that children could get infected and transmit, children luckily have very mild illness most of the time and there is a small percentage that gets sick and get inflammatory complications and few will die but much much less than the adult population…But it is good to prepare… preparing hospitals for paediatric admissions, paediatric intensive care is going to serve our health system in many ways for other illnesses children have but we should not panic about thousands of children crowding into ICUs,” she said.
Giving details about vaccine passport, she said, “We do not believe that vaccination has to be a prerequisite at least at the global level to do things like travelling because we haven’t given everyone an opportunity to get vaccinated there is so much inequity in access to vaccines, so the first thing is to get rid of the inequality then you can allow people vaccinated to relax certain measures.”
On clearance to Covaxin, she said the decision can be made hopefully by mid-September.
“The Bharat Biotech submitted their data in the third week of July which was the first data set, then there was an updated data set that came in the middle of August. The committee has gone back to the company with some questions which they must be in process of answering now. I think the technical advisory group that ultimately approves will meet in the first 10 days of September and so we are hoping it happens soon after that,” she said.