“ UK’s second Covid wave was started by young people, same scenario in India ”

By Sumit Saxena

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS): In the UK, the second wave of the coronavirus was started by young people and it seems very likely that in India too young people, who have been infected with the new strains of the virus, are spreading to more than one person, said Zhengming Chen, Professor of Epidemiology, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford.

Chen added that in the UK a high proportion of patients have Covid-19 for a long time, but the reasons for this are unclear so far.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q) Experts say young people may be the reason for the increase in cases. Is it possible that young people, who have contracted the new strains of coronavirus, are transmitting it to more than one person, leading to an increase in cases?

Answer: Yes, most likely. In the United Kingdom, the second wave started with young people through social diversity and the return to school.

Q) Is there a possibility that a second wave will not result in an increase in the number of deaths or an increase in the admission of a Covid patient to the intensive care unit (ICU), however, can viral infection have a lasting impact on health in patients, eg kidney, living or lung damage?

Answer: Very unlikely, but death rates may be somewhat lower for a number of reasons, such as better treatment and clinical management of patients, younger age of those newly infected. On the other hand, if the health care system is overwhelmed, the picture may be different, as we are now seeing in Brazil. In the UK, a high proportion of patients have long-lasting Covid, meaning they show various symptoms several months after discharge from hospital. The reasons for this phenomenon are not clear and are the subject of new research.

Q) Usually, experts say human behavior is considered a major factor linked to a peak in coronavirus cases. But some experts also point to the likelihood of a new strain, possibly behind the second wave, which may be infectious, non-fatal, leading to an increase in cases in many places in India?

Answer: In the UK, the second wave is strongly linked to the emergence of the new Kent strain, which is now crossing Europe. On the other hand, human behavior still plays an important role. For example, the UK went into lockdown in early January and although the number of cases has declined steadily from 60,000 per day to 5,000 per day over the past three months, the rate of reduction appears to have stabilized recently due to maybe locking fatigue. and poor conformity of the population with the roles.

Q) India is in the midst of a second wave of the pandemic. The increase in cases is too strong, stronger than the first wave. Is this consistent with the pattern seen in other viral pandemics?

Answer: Several other countries in Europe and South America have experienced the same situation, partly due to new variants which are 50-70% more transmissible and partly due to the fatigue of the population in lockdown. . This can also apply to India and I noticed recently that there were several big festivals in India which attracted big crowds.

Q) The United States and Europe have already faced the second wave, are there any lessons for India from Western countries?

Answer: I think the only way out is vaccination and I hope the process in India can be speeded up.

Q) Experts say the seasonal change has no effect on the coronavirus. There were some places, for example Delhi (at the start of the winter season), which saw a high number of coronavirus infections at the start, followed by a drop (December-January), is experiencing a “second wave” increase in cases at the start of the summer season in March.

Answer: Seasonal changes certainly have a role because they affect people’s activities and behaviors. However, a lot of other things are involved at the same time (emergence of new variants, timing of lockdown), so it can be difficult to understand the relevance of seasonal changes in particular. For example, in many parts of the EU cases are now increasing as we move out of the winter season, which would be mainly attributed to the UK variant B117 which is becoming dominant and much more difficult to control effectively.