Omicron is fast replacing Delta: experts
The new, highly mutated Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 is fast replacing the Delta variant in Mumbai health experts said as the city recorded 3,555 fresh cases on Thursday
Mumbai: The new, highly mutated Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 is fast replacing the Delta variant in Mumbai health experts said as the city recorded 3,555 fresh cases on Thursday. Traits in the emerging third wave including mild infections with lower hospitalization rates and a high proportion of breakthrough (post-vaccination) infections are all indicators of the widespread nature of Omicron, members of the state Covid task force said.
“The nature of the current surge is a clear indicator that the Omicron variant is replacing Delta,” said infectious disease expert Dr Om Srivastava, who is also a member of the state’s Covid-19 task force. “This is a natural progression of a virus, with newer variants dominating the older ones.”
The confirmation of the Omicron variant is done through genome sequencing. So far, more than 130 confirmed cases of the variant have been detected in Mumbai, while 450 cases have been detected in the state. However, not all samples of swabs collected around the city — or state — are sent for genome sequencing, thus it is difficult to gauge the real spread of the variant.
The city’s first wave was driven by the original Wuhan virus. The second wave, much more devastating than the first, was driven by the Delta variant. While many other variants have been in circulation, the emergence of Omicron is a cause for concern because of its high transmissibility and immune escaping capabilities.
“Similar to what other countries have experienced, the disease spectrum in the cases that we are seeing is mild. Many patients are coming with breakthrough infections. All these signs tell us that a lot of Omicron is in circulation and we are likely to see a huge number of cases in the third wave,” said Dr Tanu Singhal, an infectious disease expert from Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
Experts said the third wave is likely to have a greater number of cases, but is unlikely to see severe disease and mortality. “Since Omicron causes milder disease and with prior protection that we have from vaccinations and infections, the fresh wave is less likely to strain hospitals,” said Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.
The best strategy to tackle the Omicron outbreak is to create hurdles in its spread, he said. “We have to create a bumpy road for Omicron by wearing masks, avoiding crowds, vaccinating and following other such measures. This will help in spreading out the cases.”