Although we still hear about COVID cases, they are becoming as common as dengue or typhoid cases right now. And when the WHO said that “the end of the COVID pandemic is in sight,” it made many of us wonder if it’s time to finally put our paranoia and worries about catching a severe and highly contagious strain of COVID behind us ? Let’s hear it straight from the doctors
Dr Ankur Phatarpekar, Director of Cathlab and Interventional Cardiologist, Symbiosis Hospital, Mumbai
“As a cardiologist, I see very less cases of covid-19 in my OPD, and very less covid-induced complications of the heart. In the last 6 months, I have hardly met any patient who has had a heart attack or heart attack. disease complications due to COVID. So, yes, as WHO suggested, the pandemic is at an end stage. However, we should all still follow some safety protocols to stay away from any further viruses.”
Dr Behram Pardiwala, Director of Internal Medicine, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central
“The Covid pandemic has now become endemic with the result that there is community spread and the achievement of herd immunity to some degree. My opinion is that like the annual flu shot, we need to get an annual vaccination against COVID. We will still need to take adequate precautions, especially in crowded areas and crowded places to prevent spread. One also needs to be on guard against mutations and new strains developing and that is why the vaccine also needs to be developed. For this it is also necessary that the general public itself is aware of the consequences of the risk of their conduct.”
Dr. Vineet Arora, Director – Internal Medicine, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Shalimar Bagh
“SARS COV2 virus has a natural tendency to change itself and adapt to the host environment which enables rapid spread. We have seen the emergence of COVID strains from alpha, beta, gamma, delta to omicron and also the sub-variants. Each of them has varying degree of virulence transmissibility and immune escape potential, and each successor is stronger than its predecessor in terms of pathogenic potential. Looking at this trend, it becomes difficult to convince oneself of the end of this pandemic and also sounds a little premature, even if the prevailing strains prove to be weaker strains in terms of mortality and morbidity.”
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Dr Dipu TS, Associate Professor, Department of Infectious Diseases, Amrita Hospital, Kochi
“From the previous pandemics, our understanding is that within 2 to 3 years the pandemic will be a big challenge. We can see the same in our daily lives, we are almost back to the pre-pandemic era with the opening of schools and restaurants and public places. In in most countries the restrictions are now in name. Although new CoVID case numbers still give us the hint that it is far from over, with the newer variants, but the fact is that it is no longer a rapidly spreading disease that is sweeping the nations. The assumption is that the most infectious variant which is the omicron variant has already been there and now the circulating variants are less likely to produce a more infectious variant to slide across the globe.The hybrid immunity the masses have, due to vaccination and previous infection, contributes also to the beginning of the end. That is why the WHO rightly said that the end is in sight.”
Dr. Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, Consultant Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad
“The COVID 19 pandemic has been quite devastating worldwide with a death toll of nearly 6.5 million people globally. However, we have recently seen a decrease in the number of active COVID 19 infections worldwide. These numbers may not reflect a real incidence as there has been a general trend of decline in active screening of patients for COVID 19 infection, especially in the current scenario of increased respiratory infections secondary to influenza. In addition, the rapid kits used for immediate testing are not the gold standard diagnostic modality and may miss few active infections.
In India in particular, although active COVID 19 cases are declining, we are seeing sporadic bursts of COVID 19 infection in isolation or with seasonal influenza, and in certain high-risk patients it is associated with significant morbidity and mortality.
We have seen the emergence of mutant strains recently, with delta and omicron variants being the most involved. Although we wish we don’t see the re-emergence of further mutant variants, it seems like a realistic possibility even in the future with past data. As with all pandemics, the virus continues to persist, it’s just that the current mutational variants are not associated with severe forms of infection in a relatively healthy population.
With acceptance of social pandemic norms and active screening of COVID 19 infections in patients with upper respiratory tract infections on the decline, there is a significant possibility that we may see more mutants in the near future. As seen with pandemic flu, vaccination, wearing masks, and avoiding socializing among patients with high risk factors such as underlying diabetes, chronic kidney or heart disease, and those with low underlying immune status can reduce severity. Early reporting and active screening of patients with respiratory symptoms should continue as this can help identify the spurt early and can ensure appropriate timely mitigation measures.”