A top health expert has linked rising COVID-19 cases in India with the Omicron variant and said it will spread like a fire globally but would produce some protection even against the Delta variant.
Professor Naresh Gupta, Medical Consultant, Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) said that the Omicron is "highly transmissible" and warned that once it enters into the community, the variant would become very difficult to control.
"This is more transmissible because it has got some changes, which make it go into the human body very fast. And not only does it go faster into the human body, but it multiplies so fast that the symptoms which used to come in 5-7 days earlier, now come in two to three days. So, that shows that it is highly visible, very highly transmissible."
"Even in our Indian study, there are these reports that 70 per cent or two-thirds of cases are asymptomatic. So, both these things put together, show that it is going to spread like fire.
Once it enters into the community, it will become very difficult to control because you don't know whether the next person is having it or not because you could be asymptomatic. And of course, the virus has got the property of high transmissibility."
On rising COVID-19 cases globally following the emergence of Omicron, the expert compared India's situation with that of the world and said that the country is still in a "better state".
"In fact, globally, if we look at it, we have got more than nine lakh cases coming per day during the past week. This has beaten all the records. A small country like France is reporting more than two lakh cases every day. Look at the situation in the UK, the USA and Spain. They're running out of testing strategies. They are also worried about it."
"But at the same time, the world is also realising that it is not spreading equally fast everywhere, India has done pretty well as compared to the rest of the world. With the Indian population being about 17 - 18 per cent, we expect about 1.5 lakh cases coming every day. We are not even getting a 10th of that."
Comparing Omicron with the Delta variant, Dr Naresh said, "It hasn't created havoc the way the Delta variant created at its time (during the second wave)."
"Omicron will evade immunity but at the same time, it will provide protection from Delta. So one study that has come out is that the new variants would evade the immunity that we have got from previous infections or previous vaccinations. So Omicron would tend to evade all of them. We also know now that some of the vaccines also tend to get weaker as with the passage of time, but at the same time, there is a new work that is known that Omicron infection produces some protection in the body. And that protection also protects from the Delta variant. So here we have the scenario of a virus that is not as deadly."
Commenting on Omicron symptoms, he said, "The symptoms we're seeing irritation, there is a scratchy feeling in the throat there is some fever, and the weakness was probably more than what you would have seen in the Delta."
He further emphasised that Omicron is "more transmissible" so it's time to change the paradigm for better public health.
"We should concentrate on changing our paradigm shift for better public health. And that can come in when we concentrate more on the Omicron risky cases because it has minor symptoms or no symptoms and they can recover well."
At present, there are 961 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus in India, out of which 320 patients have recovered, informed Luv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry in a press conference today.