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With Omicron, the new variant of COVID-19, the third wave of Coronavirus could hit the peak by February 2022, with cases likely to be reaching up to 1-1.5 lakh a day in the country, but it will be milder than the second wave, Manindra Agarwal, IIT scientist involved in the mathematical projection of trajectory of COVID-19, said.
He said in the new forecast, the new Omicron variant has been factored in. "With the new variant, our current forecast is that the country could see the third wave by February but it will be milder than the second wave. So far we have seen that the severity of Omicron is not like the one seen in the Delta variant," Agarwal told PTI.
He, however, said a close eye is being kept on cases in South Africa where many cases of this variant have been recorded. Agarwal added that as of now South Africa has not seen a rise in hospitalisation. He said a fresh set of data on the virus and hospitalisations would help in getting a more solid picture.
"It looks like although the new variant has shown high transmissibility, its severity is not like the one seen in the Delta variant," Agarwal said. He said as observed during the spread of Delta, a mild lockdown (night curfew, restrictions on crowding) can bring down beta substantially. That will significantly reduce the peak value, he added.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) backed Sutra-model had earlier said the third wave of coronavirus could hit the country by October 2021 if a new variant, more virulent and transmissible than the Delta, emerges. However, till November end, there was no new variant. It had then revised its forecast to November.
On November 26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the COVID-19 virus variant detected in South Africa and some other countries as Omicron.
The WHO has also classified the Omicron variant as a 'Variant of Concern'. Experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics. While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity. More information is expected in the next two weeks' time or so, it said.
India has so far reported 23 cases of the Omicron variant, including 17 on Sunday - nine persons from Rajasthan capital Jaipur, seven in Maharashtra's Pune district and a fully vaccinated man who arrived in Delhi from Tanzania.
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