With 4,00,000 cases in a single day, healthcare, and crematoriums facing collapse, India is currently going through really tough times. The Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called the situation in India ‘heartbreaking’. Hospitals are out of beds and oxygen supply. People are dying due to oxygen shortage. The government is blaming the people for not following the Covid norms properly. In a nutshell, India’s situation is worsening day by day.
On Saturday, India witnessed its highest-ever single day spike with 4 lakh new cases. Although the government is blaming non-proper masking and community mobility for the rise in cases. Recent data shows that mask use has fallen by 10 percentage points. In August 2020, it was 71 percent, and in February 2021 it was 61 percent. The mobility index has increased by only 20 percentage points. However, these are very slight changes and do not account for the huge surge in cases.
Virus Variants in India
We already know that viruses keep changing through mutations. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have come across various mutations of the virus. After its origin in China, the virus has mutated through various countries. In India, SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium was set up to monitor genetic variations in the Coronavirus. So far, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium has tested 15,133 genomes. It accounts for only 0.0552 of every 1000 cases in India. The UK variant of the virus, B.1.1.7, was detected in six travelers in December 2020.
The Second Wave of the Pandemic
The second wave in India started in Punjab in mid-February 2021. Data suggests that 80% of the cases in Punjab were attributed to the UK variant. Most of the cases came from Punjab’s Doaba region. This region is also known as the non-resident Indian belt. Most of the people who live here have relatives abroad in Canada or the UK. COVID-19’s Indian variant, B.1.617 has been called the ‘double mutation’. It contains two mutations (E484Q and L452R). Both these mutations are likely to invade our immunity system and increase transmission. Experts in India believe that is the main reason behind the surge.
India Needs to Conduct More Testing
Cases in India are recklessly rising. An increase in mutations would significantly mean an increase in death. The more the virus will mutate, the greater number of deaths will be encountered. India needs to test more and more positive samples in order to find more mutations if any. Consistently testing the samples is expensive, but an important step in combating the pandemic. This can help in identifying hotspots, track transmission, and take important steps at the right time.