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Covid-19: Is India Entering The Endemic Stage | Explained

On 25th August, WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan gave some ray of hope and said that India might be entering an endemic stage of covid-19.

On 20th September, Top virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang too said that the covid-19 pandemic in the country may be heading towards an endemic stage.

As the healthcare authorities prepare for a possible 3rd wave of Covid-19, we take a look at If India is entering an endemic phase.

Endemic means something that is present all the time.

The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus. It is very different from the epidemic stage when the virus overwhelms a population or even a pandemic where the pattern of spread remains largely unpredictable.

Dr Shahid Jameel, a leading virologist says that an influenza is an endemic, unlike smallpox which has been eradicated.

An endemic is a disease that is consistently present but limited to a particular area.  

For example: an endemic virus in the US that remains in the population at a low frequency is the seasonal flu. 

PRESENT STATUS OF INDIA

At present, the country has been logging between 30,000 and 45,000 new cases of Covid-19 every day, down from a peak of 400,000 cases in April and May. The fresh cases have now stayed put in this range, with a majority of these coming from Kerala.

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HAS INDIA ENTERED ENDEMIC STAGE

Virologist Dr. Gagandeep Kang says that the pandemic in the country may be heading towards endemic stage, adding that a third wave, if it does take place, is likely to be due to local flare-ups that would be smaller . She also says that the scale of a possible third wave will not be like it was before .

Experts say that becoming an endemic is the natural progression of many infections we have as humans, whether it is TB or HIV and which is going to be the same as far as the covid-19 pandemic is concerned.

There have been several endemic diseases, such as influenza. But there can also be a pandemic layered on top of an epidemic disease. Thus, if there is a new variant in case of covid-19, which totally escapes the immune response, there could be yet another pandemic.

Every disease pathogen that has affected people over the last several decades stayed in some form or other as it is impossible to fully eradicate them.  

Pathogens like malaria that are very old still put  a heavy disease burden in some parts of the world . So do other epidemics like TB’s, Measles, & leprosy.  

Even Plagues returned every decade, each time hitting vulnerable societies and taking its toll during at least six centuries. The only disease that has been eradicated through relentless mass vaccination campaigns is Smallpox. 

Higher vaccination rates may in some areas eventually stop Covid-19, but that depends on how many people get vaccines, how long they last, and how effective they are at reducing transmission over time. 

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