As the world was struggling to contain Delta and now Omicron, few experts have suggested that emergence of ‘Delmicron’ is likely behind the rapid surge in cases witnessed in the west.
What is Delmicron and is it more dangerous than the identified variants?
The name Delmicron has been derived from the combination of Delta and Omicron Covid variants. It is not a new variant but the twin spike of both the identified Variants of Concern- Delta and Omicron. Although the chances of its occurrence are rare, experts suggest that the coinfection of Delta and Omicron variants can lead to the formation of Delmicron with genes from both the variants. The resulting combined mutant can be extremely dangerous as it can possess the transmissibility property from Omicron while it can procure the property of severity from Delta. Health Expert Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the Maharashtra COVID-19 task force suggested that Delmicron is behind a steep rise in cases detected in the West, especially US and Europe.
Can Delta and Omicron simultaneously infect an individual at the same time?
Studies suggest that co-infections of both Delta and Omicron, the variants behind most of the cases being reported, is possible in rare cases. It can occur in people recovering from one variant and then simultaneously getting exposed to the other variant. Health experts however suggested that getting exposed to Omicron will result in milder symptoms than getting exposed to Delta according to the preliminary data available from comparative studies.
Can Delmicron contribute to a rise in cases?
Delmicron might be the reason behind the sharp spike in cases observed in the West, lesser studies however have been conducted that can validate the observation. Meanwhile, Omicron has become the dominant strain in the United States in a week representing 73 percent of the total cases sequenced in a week. The United Kingdom has reported record numbers of Covid with cases crossing 1 lakh per day, Omicron being the dominant variant contributing to the surge. It has now been reported in over 106 countries since its detection in late November in South Africa.
Will India see a rise in COVID cases owing to the new variant?
India is already witnessing a surge in COVID cases with the reproduction number R crossing the value of 1 in several states including Delhi and Maharashtra. The country has detected 578 Omicron cases with the variant finding its way to 19 states. Many experts have suggested that the third wave might well be on its way, with a peak in the end of January or February.
What are predictions about the severity of the third wave?
Experts have suggested that although India is likely to face a third wave owing to the rise in case, it will possibly be milder than the one witnessed earlier in the months of April-May this year. There are three factors that have been pointed out behind this assumption. First is the mild nature of Omicron; the experience of other countries dealing with a surge in COVID cases provides evidence that Omicron results in milder symptoms and few cases of hospitalization. Second is the fact that Sero-surveys conducted across India showed very high prevalence of antibodies, highlighting that a majority of the population have already been infected by COVID-19. Third is the vaccination rate with over 61 percent people receiving the both doses and over 80 per cent receiving the first dose. These can result in a milder third wave, if the country faces any in the future.
What can be done to restrict the spread of COVID in all its forms?
Experts have highlighted that though the variants have changed and little information is available about the new variants, precautionary measures and following Covid-Appropriate Behavior can prevent the spread of virus in all its forms. The Health Ministry along with many state governments have now issued specific guidelines, with the implementation of night curfews and containment zones to stop the spread of COVID. Health Officials and scientific groups suggest that preventive measures remain the best possible way out of the pandemic.