Ground Report | New Delhi: Storm of COVID-19; Bhramar Mukherjee is a Professor of Biostatistics at the American University of Michigan. She has been understanding the Covid-19 pandemic in India for the last two years. Now she has come to her parents’ farmhouse located at Rupar near Shantiniketan in Birbhum, West Bengal.
In an interview with Telegraph, Mukherjee talks about the wave of Omicron variants in India and India’s data on the COVID pandemic. Bhramar Mukherjee has said that India has caught the third storm of Covid.
About the Omicron wave in India, Bhramar Mukherjee said, “Our study estimates that infections are increasing rapidly in India. Up to 50 percent of people who have received a single dose of the vaccine or have been previously infected have the Omicron variant. Depending on the severity of South Africa, 30 to 50 percent of people who die in the second wave of corona are likely to die from Omicron. They will not have to be hospitalized because of the vaccine. These conjectures are based on several assumptions, which may or may not be true in India.
“The good thing with India is that a large number of people have received both doses of the vaccine and a large number of people have already been infected. We estimate that the second wave death toll in India is 40% is expected from Omicron.
Bhramar Mukherjee said, “It is difficult to estimate the severity and death toll of Covid this time in India as we do not know the exact number of people admitted in hospitals and even those who died of Covid.” As we have seen in the US, the excess mortality is due not only to the horrors of Omicron and Delta but also to inadequate health services.
You tweeted that Omicron is not very dangerous. Due to this narrative, people took it lightly and its effect is clearly visible in America. How do you see that Omicron is less dangerous and the way infections are rising in India right now? (Storm of COVID-19)
Bhramar Mukherjee says, “I noticed that there is a lot of confusion in the precaution regarding omicron. Even if it is less dangerous, then without precaution the infection will increase rapidly and this will not only increase the burden on the health sector but will affect the labor of every sector.
Mukherjee said “Omicron is no less dangerous for everyone. We are underestimating the lives of people whose health is already bad in this matter. Many other countries including India have made mistakes. Here people keep waiting till then Unless there is a rapid increase in infections. If we fix health services in advance, then lockdown can be avoided. We have to vaccinate, compulsory masks, and avoid crowded events”.
How strong is the evidence that Omicron infection is low-risk? Does it matter for Omicron to be low-risk in a densely populated country like India?
In response to this question, Bhramar Mukherjee said, ‘We are seeing that the vaccine is helping to prevent hospitalization and death. That’s the hope. But there are two parts to the danger. If you do get infected, what is its severity, and whether you get infected with it or not? We feel like we’re focusing on the first one. We are forgetting that the infection is increasing rapidly. The danger lies on both levels. Infection rates matter when it comes to people’s lives and hospital resources, but the total number is also important. We are allowing the virus to mutate and there is a risk of new variants coming. (Storm of COVID-19)
Health experts in India say that the third wave of the corona has started in India 10 to 15 days ago. Do you believe that India still has time to act proactively and vigorously so that the devastation of the third wave can be minimized?
In response to this question, Bhramar Mukherjee said, “If I had been in the government, Omicron would have been identified in early December and strict rules regarding booster dose masks would have been made at the same time.” We know that we cannot stop Covid with only travel bans.