Covid Wrap-Up: Decline in cases calm before third wave?

Covid-19 Wrap-Up: Decline in cases calm before another wave?

States like Karnataka have begun tightening curbs as predictions by experts look less promising

Representative image. Credit: AFP File Photo

With 34,499 new infections, Covid-19 cases saw a dip on Monday. However, in view of the concerns raised by the experts regarding a possible third wave, the administration is not letting the guard down.

States like Karnataka have begun tightening curbs as predictions by experts look less promising. There is a special focus on keeping things under control in Bengaluru. In line with the recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), the government has intensified surveillance in Bengaluru and districts that border Kerala and Maharashtra. 

However, Health Minister K Sudhakar has clarified that there is no question of imposing a state-wide full lockdown.

The state capital had reported a disproportionately high number of infections during the devastating second wave of Covid-19. BBMP's special commissioner for health, D Randeep believes that Bengaluru is at crossroads. "The curve can go up very soon. The R-value (reproduction number) is almost touching 1, indicating that every Covid patient is infecting at least one other person," he said. 

Maharashtra, which has managed to keep its cases under control, on Sunday announced that fully vaccinated citizens of Mumbai will be allowed to travel in local trains from August 15, but a gap of 14 days from the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine is necessary to avail the facility. The suburban train services in the metropolis were suspended for general public in April this year when the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak in the state. At present, only government employees and essential services staffers are allowed to travel in local trains.

As vaccine certificates become more and more important to access facilities, the Health Ministry has now made getting vaccination certificates easier. Anyone inoculated with a Covid-19 jab can get the vaccination certificate now on WhatsApp by sending a message to +91-9013151515.

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday proposed to resume physical classes for students from classes IX to XII from September 1 and allow re-opening of medical colleges in the state from August 16. Chief Minister of the State M K Stalin arrived at this decision after reviewing the Covid-19 situation with medical experts in the light of a marginal rise in the cases of late in the state.

With the Delta variant of Covid-19 sweeping different parts of the world, the clamour for vaccines grows louder. The US is now registering the same level of daily cases as its previous peak due to the more transmissible strain of SARS-CoV-2. The Delta variant, which has now been detected in 135 countries in the world, led to fresh curbs in China and a rise in cases across the UK.

India granted emergency approval to Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine, and now has five vaccines to fight the virus. Scientists have pondered the vaccines' efficacy against the Delta variant, which caused the deadly second wave in India.

Combining Covishield and Covaxin as first two doses of Covid-19 vaccines have shown "better immunogenicity" than the two doses of same vaccines, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which is yet to be peer-reviewed, has said. If this works, it could help bridge the supply gap in vaccines the country faces. 

The researchers said such mixed regimens will also help to overcome the challenges of shortages of particular vaccines and remove hesitancy around vaccines in people's mind that could have genesis in programmatic ‘errors’, especially in settings where multiple Covid-19 vaccines are being used.

Another study found that individuals with a prior Covid-19 infection may be sufficiently protected from re-infection after a single dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, freeing up availability of millions of additional doses. The team noted that in previously infected individuals with positive SARS-CoV-2 spike IgG levels, "the second dose did not significantly increase IgG levels compared with the first dose, suggesting that one dose may be acceptable in this group."

A study published in The Lancet has determined that Covid-19 infection can negatively impact intelligence. The study, which surveyed 81,337 people in the United Kingdom, found that people who have recovered from Covid-19 tend to score significantly lower on intelligence tests as opposed to those who have not contracted the virus. Common problems included completing tasks linked to problem-solving, reasoning and spatial planning.

At the same time, The Lancet study indicated that the level of cognitive underperformance is associated with the level of illness severity. This has seen echoes in several patients in India as well and could be a major cause for alarm once individuals resume their 'usual' work under the new normal.