In the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has taken just eight days for India's daily cases to cross 1 lakh from 10,000. If you compare it with the second wave last year, it took Covid cases 47 days to reach the 1 lakh level from a tally of 10,000.
In the first Covid wave in 2020, it took SARS-CoV-2 virus 103 days to reach the near 1 lakh level from the 10,000 Covid cases (the peak registered was 98,795).
The second wave had peaked around 4 lakh cases last year.
The current tally shows how fast the Omicron-led wave is spreading in the community and is likely to break all previous records within no time.
The only respite so far is that the country has not witnessed a surge in oxygen demand or hospitalisation but the way the Omicron-led Covid 3.0 wave is fast spreading, it can put a lot of pressure on the healthcare system in days to come, in a country with nearly 1.4 billion people.
On Friday, India registered a single-day rise of 1,17,100 new Covid cases, a significant rise from the previous day's 90,928 cases, in a span of 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the Omicron infection tally reached 3,007 across the nation, said the Health Ministry.
While Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorised as 'mild' as just like previous variants, Omicron is hospitalising people and it is killing people, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has warned that humanity "could be entering the worst part of the pandemic" as the Omicron variant spreads fast across the globe, stressing that it will "hit home for all of us".
The Omicron variant multiplies about 70 times faster inside human respiratory tract tissue than the Delta variant, according to scientists at the University of Hong Kong.
Omicron also reaches higher levels in the tissue, compared with Delta, 48 hours after infection. However, it is less severe than the previous variants because it does not cause as much damage in the lungs, a spate of studies have suggested.
A study by a consortium of US and Japanese scientists on hamsters and mice, has found those infected with Omicron had less lung damage, lost less weight and were less likely to die than those who had other variants.
The Omicron variant, harbouring up to 36 mutations in spike protein, is known to evade vaccine efficacy. Data suggests Omicron may be able to infect people at a lower dose than Delta or the original variant. Inside the lung tissue, Omicron has been reported to be less efficient at infecting cells than Delta or the original version of the virus.
"The infection is more focused on the bronchia than the lungs and very fast," Marc Veldhoen, an immunologist at the University of Lisbon, posted on Twitter.
Scientists now need to measure the viral loads inside people's respiratory tracts.
With Delta, people have, on average, 1,000 times more virus particles in their respiratory tracts than with the original variants.
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