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FAQ: India to Enter Endemic Stage In 2022? What Does This Mean

What exactly is the endemic stage? Can I ditch my mask at this stage? Here's all you need to know.

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F.A.Q
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>What exactly is the endemic stage? Can I ditch my mask at this stage? Here's all you need to know.</p></div>
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In the endemic stage, the population of a country will eventually learn to live with the virus. And for India, battling the COVID-19 pandemic, that stage could come by the end of 2022, said World Health Organisation's Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan.

What exactly is the endemic stage? Can I ditch my mask at this stage? Here's all you need to know.

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What are the different stages of pandemic?

The different stages of pandemic are:

  • Outbreak: When a large number of people, in a closed group, show disease at the same time.

  • Epidemic: When a large number of people across one or more country are infected with the same disease.

  • Pandemic: When the infection spreads across continents.

What is endemicity then?

According to US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

"Endemic refers to the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area.”

Does this mean COVID will no longer exist?

No, this means that there will still be infections. Bu it may not be the desired level of zero.

In a previous article for FIT, Dr Shahid Jameel, a virologist, said,

“With increasing exposure viruses become less virulent and adapt to infect at lower levels and do that periodically. Mutations are part of the process. This is called becoming endemic to a population. Endemic means present all the time."

When will India reach endemic with regard to COVID-19?

In an interview with The Wire, which was published on Tuesday, 24 August, Dr Swaminathan said that COVID-19 is likely to assume the form of an endemic, instead of its present status as an epidemic, by the end of 2022.

Dr Swaminathan added, "It’s very feasible we may continue like this, with a few local ups and downs."

This transformation will be facilitated by ensuring vaccination as well as COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, she indicated.

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Does this mean there will be no third wave?

No, we cannot say that for sure as it depends on emerging variants and the rate of vaccination.

Speaking to the FIT, Dr Gagandeep Kang, said that even if there is a third wave, it is unlikely to be as devastating as the second.

Speaking to FIT, she said, "Between the vaccination and the horror of the second wave, when we had such a high rate of infection in the country, we are actually not in as bad a position as many other places."

What should we watch out for?

According to FIT, the major rider that we should all watch out for is that no new variant comes along to disrupt the progress made by countries.

For example, Israel is one of the highest-vaccinated countries in the world. But it is now recording fresh COVID infections at the same rate as January 2021 – before the vaccination drive began.

Robust vaccination is another thing the country should be mindful of.

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Can I stop wearing masks then?

No, you should continue wearing masks even if you are completely vaccinated.

You should preferably double mask, while visiting crowded places.

Can I stop wearing mask in 2022 when India reaches endemic stage?

Not as of now. One must continue wearing masks, until the Health Ministry advisory says so.

Does this mean there will be no pandemic-induced restrictions?

Again, we cannot predict this now. However, if there is an outbreak in a particular state or district, restrictions are most likely to be imposed there.

(With inputs from FIT)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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