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Omicron surge: How uptick in Covid numbers is affecting death count in third wave

The trajectory of deaths now will tell how severe or mild Omicron as a variant is, effectivity of vaccines and Government preparedness

India is in the middle of a third wave of the pandemic now and the ramifications are clear. There is a rise in Covid-linked deaths but the count is nowhere as much as compared to the pace of surge in daily cases. After remaining in double digits for a month, the death counts are now inching towards three figures if figures from Kerala are removed. However, as compared to second wave deaths as a proportion of infection numbers are still very low.

During February and mid-March last year there were 100 deaths on an average when cases were between 15,000 to 20,000. Last year numbers took a month to shoot from 12, 000 to 25, 000 in contrast to that this year when in nearly 12 days cases are from 10, 000 to 1.8 lakh.

Since deaths count numbers trail by about two weeks, the impact of the surge on mortality will begin to show only now. Hence the trajectory of deaths now will tell how severe or mild Omicron as a variant is, effectivity of vaccines and Government preparedness etc.

Kerala here is an exception as it has reported the largest number of Covid related deaths since last four months. In September, Kerala reported 242 deaths on an average daily. This is also because previously uncounted deaths and thus playing up with the pan-India death trend.

But in most other states, the death rate fell to single digits and on some days it was less than 50 deaths in the whole country, a trend last seen ahead of the first wave in 2020. But trends are changing now as 86 deaths took place on Sunday -minus the Kerala count- and Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal accounted for 16 to 18 deaths.

But a month ago, 20 states were reporting zero deaths and many big states with higher populations like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat also reported fewer deaths in the last three months. More deaths are reported in these states on a daily basis.

Even though omicron is seen as a milder variant, a smaller number of people developing severe illness and even fewer succumbing to it. But as the cases rise even more in the coming days, the overall Covid-related deaths numbers are likely to be affected.

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