What is endemicity stage Covid is entering in India?

Explained: What is the endemicity stage Covid-19 is entering in India?

The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus

Representative image. Credit: iStock Images

After infecting over 3 crore and killing over 4.3 lakh people in India, the coronavirus has now reached some stage of endemicity where there is a low or moderate level of transmission going on, according to WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.

The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus and it differs from the epidemic stage when a population is overwhelmed by a virus.

Does this mean the coronavirus will always exist and people will just have to adjust to this new normal? Let’s take a look at the terminology.

What is endemicity or an endemic?

When a disease is consistently present but limited to a particular geographical area, it is called an endemic disease. In this stage, the transmission and rate of illness is much more predictable. It can be compared to the seasonal flu in the US.

How is this different from a pandemic?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease. A pandemic is defined as a disease outbreak that spreads across countries or continents. Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020 when it became clear that the illness was severe and that it was spreading quickly over a wide area.

Coronavirus has now affected over 200 million people worldwide.

Read | Covid-19-like pandemic may hit within next 60 years: Study

Will Covid-19 exist consistently and become an endemic?

Health experts have opined that the coronavirus could be the next endemic and that it will develop and change over the years. The initial aim with regard to the virus was that if enough vaccination numbers were achieved, a state of herd immunity could be reached. But new, more infectious strains of the virus have made it difficult.

Many countries including China and Australia are trying to rid themselves of the virus with stringent lockdown measures and curbs. But the Delta variant continues to scare nations, including and especially, the US.

Where does vaccines fit into the equation?

Vaccination will continue and it is effective but the medical community in India is currently debating the need for booster shots of vaccines.

According to an Israel study, a third dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine has significantly improved protection from infection and serious illness among people aged 60 and older as compared with those who received two shots.

While the United States has decided to provide booster shots to most of its citizens, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said that India does not have enough data as of now on the need for a third Covid-19 vaccine dose or a booster shot.

 

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