Omicron XBB and its variants are responsible for the current surge in COVID-19 cases, but this is not a cause for worry as the severity of this variant is currently below average, with less hospitalisation, a senior Health Ministry official said on April 12.
India has been registering a steady surge in COVID-19 cases for over two weeks now. The official added that there will be a further rise in cases for the next 8-10 days, after which a decline is expected. “Caution and not panic is the way out,” he said.
The Health Ministry source said that the current surge is not a “wave” but rather an “endemic cycle” of COVID-19. While Omicron and its sub-lineages continue to be the dominant variant, most of the assigned variants have little or no significant disease severity.
India on April 12 morning reported 7,830 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, the highest in over seven months, according to Health Ministry figures.
“The XBB.1.16 subvariant of Omicron, which is driving the latest surge, is not a cause of worry and vaccines are effective against it,” said the source. He added that subvariant’s prevalence increased from 21.6% in February to 35.8% in March.
Meanwhile the Health Ministry has said that there is no shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine for those who want to avail of it. “There is enough, and the Central Government is not keen to over-procure and then waste these vaccines. These vaccines are now available at very competitive prices in the market and in the government sector. States are also advised to buy as per need,’’ a Health Ministry official said.
Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted on April 12: “As COVID cases have been rising again with Omicron XBB & its variants, it can be severe for the elderly. I’d suggest for the elderly, mask up & take the Covovax booster which is now available on the COWIN app. It is excellent against all variants & is approved in the US & Europe.”