Omicron represents a new virus that differs evolutionarily from the previous delta or variants, but experts said the third wave largely follows the migration pattern of the two previous waves.
Speaking Thursday at a panel discussion entitled Variants, Vaccines and Us, virologist Dr V Ravi, a member of Karnataka’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), indicated that the outbreak would peak in the city by the end of the month, before moving to other areas.
Since the start of the increase on December 29, Bengaluru has accounted for an average of 79% of all new cases registered daily in the state, according to official data.
“Cities are crowded and people are largely congregating in enclosed spaces, which makes them very vulnerable to the epidemic. Again, we will see the same pattern (as before). Currently Omicron is on the major subway. Three weeks after that, he will move to regions and then moves to the fringes,” he said, adding that this is a typical epidemiological pattern.
This could mean a slightly prolonged exit from the current wave than was expected.
If the second wave is a pattern, Bengaluru peaked on April 30th. At the time, the city accounted for 60% of all new cases in the state. After that, her share began to decline. It took the state another five days to reach its peak, and in that time it accounted for 40% of all new cases. However, the new nature of Omicron provides few conclusive clues about how the wave propagates.
Speaking at the event, virologist Dr. T Jacob John noted that the new variant’s ability to induce intracellular infection meant that there had been a fundamental shift in the pathology of the virus, setting it apart from other variants.
Thus, there is a shift (of infection) from the lungs to the upper respiratory tract. The second transformation is known as the slit. He explained that this represented a shift in the pathogenesis of the disease.
More cases of children?
However, the high infection of the new variant has implications for children under 15 years of age, since more of them may catch the virus in the wave.
While Dr. John said he believed children would be better off with Omicron, he added that there are risks.
Omicron is an attenuated (from Delta) virus, less severe. But a recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed that children infected with the new coronavirus are 2.66 times more likely to develop diabetes than children who have never had the novel coronavirus.
The Minister of Health, Dr. K. Sudhakar, at a press conference, Thursday, said that children under 15 are at risk under the pretext of not being vaccinated.