India May See a Larger COVID-19 Outbreak in Coming Days if Draconian Measures are Not Taken: Epidemiologist

By Global Times

Apr 26, 2021 01:10 AM

Hindu devotees take a holy dip in the waters of the River Ganges during the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar, India on March 11. Photo: AFP

A senior Chinese epidemiologist predicted that India may face a larger coronavirus outbreak in the coming days if the Indian government does not take decisive measures. The expert noted that the virus variants are not the major cause of the current incontrollable situation. 

In the past 24 hours, India recorded 346,786 new confirmed coronavirus cases bringing the total number of cases to 16.6 million. Due to the severe situation, the death toll continues to climb. 

Some experts considered that the virus variants in India became a major reason for the resurgence of cases, as the variant in India could carry an additional mutation. However, Zhang Wenhong, China's leading infectious disease expert and head of the Shanghai COVID-19 medical team, said on his Weibo account that this was not the reason for the current uncontrollable situation in India. 

The B.1.617 COVID-19 variant was discovered in October 2020 in India and as of April 20, over 20 countries have found the variant but there has not been such a massive outbreak like in India. Besides, the transmission rate of the variant found in India is similar to the variant found in the UK, which is higher than the variant reported in South Africa. 

According to the study of the effect of mutant strains on serum neutralization and the impact on vaccines, it was found that samples of local vaccines and serum of recovered patients have a reduced neutralization of the virus variant but it is still effective against mutant strains, Zhang said. While the total number of inoculations in India is just behind of that in the US and in China, given its huge population, the single-dose vaccination rate is 8 percent, which is still relatively low and can't stop the virus from spreading to more places. 

In March, India abandoned social distancing and other preventive control measures and held various traditional festivals and political rallies. The government did not fight the epidemic in an active manner since the beginning which led to the worsening of the situation, the Chinese expert further elaborated, adding that only strict public health measures and decisive polices, with the help of the public, could help the South Asian country to get through the current crisis.

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