Delta variant not extinct yet, but Omicron rapidly taking over: experts

As state health authorities await the results of genome sequencing of samples taken in the second week of January, data so far shows that the Omicron variant is on the verge of taking over the Delta strain. Experts have, however, said that the Delta strain of SARS CoV2 virus is not extinct yet.

Pradeep Vyas, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Maharashtra, told The Indian Express that the rate of replacement is different in different districts.

On Wednesday, 86 patients with Omicron infection were detected across the state, increasing the tally to a total of 1,367 laboratory-confirmed cases of the variant in the state. Of these, 627 are from Mumbai, followed by 329 in Pune city, 75 in Pimpri- Chinchwad and 41 in Pune Rural. Sangli has 59 confirmed cases, followed by 51 in Nagpur and 48 in Thane. Kolhapur and Panvel have 18 cases each of Omicron, 11 in Osmanabad, 10 in Navi Mumbai and 13 in Satara, 9 in Amravati, and seven in Kalyan-Dombivali.

State authorities said that in December last year, over 4,000 samples were genome sequenced, and Delta strain was found in about 70 per cent cases. In January, 500 samples have undergone genome sequencing and so far it seems that Omicron is on the verge of taking over the Delta strain, said experts. A clear picture will emerge within a week, they said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Dr V K Paul, member (Health) Niti Aayog told media persons that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV2 virus was replacing the existing Delta strain but “we can’t conclusively say that Delta strain is extinct”.

The overall upsurge in cases has shown that it is a rapidly spreading one requiring less hospitalisation.

However, the Omicron variant is not as simple as a common cold, said Dr Paul.

Currently, the maximum number of active Covid-19 cases in the country are in Maharashtra where, as on January 12, there are 2.57 lakh cases. This is against 69,008 cases on January 5, according to data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Covid weekly positivity rate has increased from 11% on January 5 to 22.39% on January 12 in Maharashtra.

According to a state Health department report, there has been a 255% rise in Covid-19 infections in five districts of Maharashtra from January 4 to 11. As against 64,860 infections in the week of December 29-January 4, there are now 2.3 lakh new cases in the week of January 4 -11 across Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Raigad and Palghar.

The weekly Covid positivity rate in Thane is 29.58 %, Mumbai (28.23 %), Palghar (24.93%), Raigad (23.34 %) and Pune (20.86%).

Till January 10, nearly 14 per cent of patients (29,110) were hospitalised while 86 per cent are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms. While there were 893 patients in the ICU on January 1, there are 1,875 persons admitted to intensive care units across the state now. According to the report, there are 5,775 critical patients with 656 on ventilator support and 1,219 requiring oxygenation in the ICU.
There are 3,900 patients who are not admitted to the ICU but require oxygen support, said the report.
Covaxin shortage in state

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said there was a shortage of Covaxin doses and there is a requirement of 40 lakh doses of the vaccine, while 50 lakh doses of Covishield was required. Covaxin is being given to teenagers between 15 and 18 years and with the precautionary dose being administered, a sizable number of patients will require Covaxin.

“I am getting calls from collectors in various district that there is inadequate stock of Covaxin and at the video-conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, we will be taking up this issue. Presently, over 14 crore doses have been administered… 8.39 crore have got the first dose of the vaccine while 5.68 crore have got both doses. A total of 1.11 lakh precautionary doses have been administered so far. Around 21.83 lakh beneficiaries in the 15-18 age group have got the first shot of Covaxin. We will take up the issue of more doses of Covishield and Covaxin with the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare,” Tope said at a press conference.


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