Omicron follows epidemiological pattern of second wave: Experts

Omicron represents a new virus that is evolutionarily different from the Delta or earlier variants, but experts said the third wave largely follows the migration pattern of the previous two waves.

During a panel discussion titled Variants, Vaccines and Us Thursday, virologist Dr. V Ravi, a member of Karnataka’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), noted that the outbreak may peak in the city by the end of the month before moving to other districts.

Since the wave started on Dec. 29, Bengaluru has been responsible for an average of 79% of all new cases registered daily in the state, official data shows.

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“Cities are overcrowded and people mostly meet in closed spaces, making them very vulnerable to the epidemic. Again, we will see the same pattern (as before). Omicron is currently located in major metropolitan areas. Three weeks later it will move to the districts and then to the periphery,” said Dr Ravi, adding that this is a typical epidemiological pattern.

This could mean a slightly longer exit from the current wave than expected.

If the second wave is a model, Bengaluru peaked on April 30. At that time, the city was responsible for 60% of all new cases in the state. After that, his share started to fall away. It took the state five more days to reach its peak, by which time it had accounted for 40% of all new cases. However, Omicron’s new nature offers little convincing evidence about how the wave will play out.

At the event, virologist Dr. T. Jacob John noted that the ability of the new variant to carry out intracellular infections meant that there has been a fundamental shift in the pathology of the virus, which sets it apart from other variants.

“As a result, there is a shift (of the infection) from the lungs to the upper respiratory tract. The second shift is known as incision. This represents a shift in pathogenesis,” he explained.

More children’s affairs?

The high contagiousness of the new variant nevertheless affects children under 15 years of age, as a higher number of them can contract the virus in the wave.

Although Dr. John said he believed children would generally do better under Omicron, adding that there are risks.

Omicron is a diluted virus (than Delta), less serious. But a recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that children infected with the new coronavirus are 2.66 times more likely to develop diabetes than children who have never contracted the new coronavirus, he said.

Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar told a news conference on Thursday that children under 15 are vulnerable because they have not been vaccinated.

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