‘Extension of 2nd wave, not onset of 3rd, the main worry’

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on July 31, 2021

Anurag Agrawal

CSIR-IGIB director concerned over spread of Covid in States with low seropositivity

The second wave is not over, cautions Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), explaining the surge in Kerala and several North Eastern States.

With cases still hovering at about 40,000 a day in the country, Agrawal said, the worry was not about a third wave, but the stretch of the second wave in States that have low seropositivity, as captured in a recent national survey. That being the case, he said, from a public health standpoint, people need to keep their festival celebrations for another day.

Cases in Kerala

The surge of cases in Kerala was consistent with the data, he said. The Delta variant reached a month later, seropositivity was lower and so the population was more susceptible to infection. The slower spread was because of better containment, though, there were some “missteps” in the gatherings that were allowed recently, he pointed out.

Kerala is a homogenous State and its high density allows for easy transmission, he said, adding that “ït was exactly what you’d expect”. The high “R (reproduction) factor” was because of the highly transmissible variant and the crowds that allowed the spread, he said. “There is a lesson for everybody, no matter how good you are in terms of health infrastructure, you should not allow public gatherings,” he said.

The way ahead, he said, would be to have targeted vaccination of people in States where seropositivity is low. When asked if there would be a policy change to go in for a more streamlined vaccination, he indicated that health administrators must be thinking along those lines as well.

Responding to anecdotal evidence of doctors saying that their hospitals were beginning to see more Covid-19 patients again, and whether that was an early warning of sorts, he said, States that had a severe impact of the second wave had “settled”, even as Kerala and the North East continued to see a prolonged second wave, due to low prior exposure.

Published on July 30, 2021

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