India will have to learn to live with COVID.
The infectious viral disease that has claimed millions of lives across the globe will start becoming endemic in India in the next six months, a top expert from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.
Dr Sujeet Singh, the Director of NCDC, told NDTV in an interview that a new variant alone can’t bring a third wave of infections, vaccination is the best bet against the coronavirus, and that COVID becoming endemic would mean the infection becoming more manageable.
“This pandemic has defied most of our predictions but in the next six months, we will approach endemic status,” he said. “If the mortality and morbidity is under control, then we can manage the disease.”
He cited the example of Kerala, which was seeing a big surge in COVID infections for the last few weeks, but was now emerging from the crisis. Dr Singh also explained that infections would reduce as more people are exposed to the virus and get vaccinated.
“As many as 75 crore people have been vaccinated. If vaccine effectiveness is 70 per cent, then around 50 crore people in India have got immunity. A single dose gives 30-31 per cent immunity. So the 30 crore people who have received a single dose, are also immunised,” he pointed out, adding that infections among fully-vaccinated people would happen in 20-30 per cent of cases.
He also raised concerns about the upcoming festival season in India, cautioning that people need to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing even after getting vaccinated.
And in what is good news for Indians, the NCDC director clarified that so far no new variant of COVID has been found in India, not even the C1.2 and Mu strains that are raising concern elsewhere in the world. “Just a new variant cannot cause a third wave. The factor will be a mix of behaviour and antibodies,” Dr Singh told NDTV.