THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The pace of Covid spread, especially the Omicron variant, has worried citizens and authorities alike.
However, the fact that use of ICUs and ventilators has not risen in the third wave like last year, even though people are getting admitted to hospitals, is something of a relief.
A comparison of severe hospital admissions, when the state’s active caseload crossed 3 lakh during the peak of the second wave in May 2021 and now, found that ICU and ventilator use this time dropped by 70 and 80 per cent, respectively.
The reduction in severity is on expected lines as health experts say the prevailing situation is far from alarming.
They attribute the low prevalence of severity to the improved immunity through vaccination, infection and booster doses.
“The Omicron variant spread at a time when the population had built a strong immunity. The Covid variant has low pathogenicity (the property of causing disease) despite it being hyper mutant and hyper transmissible variant,” said Dr A Fathahudeen, head of the department of pulmonary and critical care and the nodal officer for Covid in Ernakulam MCH.
“Omicron does not enter the lungs. instead, it stays in the throat, nose and airways. So, it will not cause pneumonia. This is why its infection is not getting severe,” he said.
However, Omicron may still pose danger to patients with severe comorbidities, those who are unvaccinated and those suffering from other immunocompromised conditions.
Data from the health department shows only over 11,100 people who form just 3.6 per cent of total active caseload are admitted in various hospitals, government or private.
Also, most of the patients admitted with severe infections are those who delayed hospital admission.
There were 11 deaths reported on Thursday. Officials of the department said most of the deceased were those with comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension.
Health experts have also mooted the creation of an admission protocol to prevent unnecessary hospitalisations.
“Several people having mild symptoms get admitted to hospital out of panic. Such instances will not only waste resources, but cause more panic. No admission protocols are being observed as everyone wants to play it safe and avoid controversies,” said a doctor with Thiruvananthapuram General Hospital on conditions of anonymity.
The state has given the first dose of vaccine to all targeted eligible population while 84 per cent received the second dose by January 25.
Similarly, 69 per cent of kids in the 15-17 age group have got the first dose so far.