Covid-19 pandemic endemicity phase: As health authorities prepare hospitals for an impending third wave of Covid-19, World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, giving a ray of hope, said that India could be getting into some kind stage of “endemicity”. The level of transmission, he said, will be normal to moderate and of exponential growth and the peaks that the country witnessed a few months ago are unlikely.
Swaminathan in his last interaction also said that the situation in India will continue with ups and downs considering the size and heterogeneity of the population and its immunity status. Therefore, only the vulnerable population where there are low levels of vaccine coverage can see peaks and valleys during the next few months.
What is endemicity?
According to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, a disease reaches an endemic stage when a population learns to live with the conditions. It means that its spread is limited to a particular area and its rate is predictable. Unlike an epidemic, it doesn’t overwhelm the population, says the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that endemic “refers to the constant presence and / or habitual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area.”
What Delhi Health Minister Said About Covid-19 Pandemic Approaching “Endemic Phase”
Just a month before Delhi was reeling under the second wave of Covid, Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said: “The pandemic phase has ended in Delhi and it seems that we are moving towards the endemic phase … Delhi had a swine flu outbreak 10 years ago, but still, some cases are reported every year. Covid-19 is not going to end completely but we will have to learn to live with it. We should continue to wear masks and this has been the biggest learning in the last year. “
However, since April 1, Delhi’s daily Covid-19 cases witnessed a steady increase, from 2,720 on April 1 to more than 10,000 positive cases in one day in 10 days. Throughout the month, hospitals in the capital battled for medical supplies, oxygen and hospital beds, with deaths reaching a record high. The blockade was imposed to control the situation.
Cases plunged from 25,212 on May 1 to 946 on May 30, registering a steady decline throughout the month. The metro reported 39 new Covid cases on Tuesday and zero deaths for the fifth day in a row.
According to a PTI report, experts such as Dr. Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of the Delhi Government-run LNJP Hospital, Dr. Sanjeev K. Singh, Resident Medical Director of Amrita Hospitals in Faridabad have also opined that although zero cases it is an unlikely figure, as the virus continues to mutate, there will be few cases in the next few days. “As COVID-19 gradually becomes endemic, probably within 12-24 months, it will probably no longer be a statistic you see on a daily basis. Said Dr. Gauri Agarwal, IVF expert and founder of Seeds of Innocence.
How pandemics or epidemics end up endemic and rarely go away
All disease pathogens that have affected people for the past several decades remained in one form or another, as it is impossible to eradicate them completely. Pathogens such as malaria that are as old as mankind still exert a high burden of disease, and so are epidemics such as tuberculosis, measles, leprosy, and younger pathogens such as Ebola, MERS, SARS, and the recent SARS-CoV-2.
Even the plagues returned every decade, each time striking vulnerable societies and taking their toll for at least six centuries. The only disease that has been eradicated by relentless mass vaccination campaigns is smallpox.
What it means for Covid-19 to become endemic
According to immunologist Yonatan Grad, the optimistic view is that enough people will gain immunity through vaccination or natural infections and the rate of transmission will decrease considerably. But with the emergence of new variants, especially the latest ‘Delta’ variant, mathematically acquiring ‘auditory immunity’ seems impossible.