NEW DELHI: The Centre may be heaving a sigh of relief as the trend of decline in Covid-19 cases as well as deaths in most parts of the country continues over the last few weeks, but at the same time it is also worried that this calm may be short-lived as the winter is about to set in. It is for this reason that top functionaries in the government, including the prime minister, have been warning people not to let the guard down.
Experts say that cooler weather is likely to worsen the coronavirus’ spread as it happens with most viruses that attack the respiratory tract and may lead to possibly a second, even a bigger wave of cases and deaths in the country.
“That’s likely both because of biology and behaviour, though our experience says that latter may be mattering more,” said infectious disease expert Dr Aarti Sachdeva.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday underlined that India has sustained its trend of maintaining the active cases below the 7.5 lakh mark for the second successive day.
The decline is remarkable as it has brought down the number of active cases in India to 7,40,049 now from 10,17, 754 on September 19. On Tuesday, India — after a gap of 84 days — had registered less than 50,000 new Covid-19 cases in a 24-hour period.
The decline is also reflected in reduced daily deaths which are now below 800.
A government appointed committee had earlier this week, through mathematical modelling, predicted that the pandemic has peaked in India but also warned that any laxity during the festive season and the winter can lead to a significant rise in the cases — as much as up to 26 lakh cases within a month.
“A similar pattern has been observed across the Europe and may be repeated in India, too, if people don’t wear masks routinely and get too close with each other in poorly ventilated areas,” said Dr Sachdeva.
She added that in India, too, the winter season is marked by a significant rise in pneumonia in both adults and kids. Pneumonia is also a very common complication for the majority of Covid-19 patients who require hospitalisation.
An added worry in many parts of the country is the air pollution which worsens during the winters and can aggravate the Covid-19 disease.
“In winters people tend to spend more time in closed spaces, thus increasing the transmission of aerosol or droplet containing viruses which facilitate the movement of the pathogens from one person to another,” said public health researcher Dr Oommen John.
“This is called contact rate and the contact rates are observed to be higher in winters.”
He also stressed that “viability of respiratory viruses tend to be higher in winters as they tend to be able to stay infectious for longer”.
Vaccine trial site not yet selected
NEW DELHI: Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V, which received regulatory approvals for clinical trials in India last week will first be tried in 100 volunteers but the trial sites, said sources, are still being worked out.
The Drug Controller General of India’s subject expert committee had on October 16 given conditional approval for the vaccine’s trial in the country to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
“(The) Firm should generate safety and immunogenicity data on 100 subjects in phase II clinical trial and submit for evaluation before proceeding to phase III clinical trial,” the committee had said.