Why COVID-19 deaths are increasing despite vaccination

New Delhi: Amid a massive surge in the Covid-19 cases since the outbreak of the new Omicron variant, the coronavirus related fatalities have also started rising in India. However, the rate of increase in deaths remains much lower than what was reported during the second wave last year.

As per the Health Ministry report on January 5, India has administered a total of 148.18 crore Covid vaccine doses which includes 90.8 per cent first dose, and 65.9 per cent second dose.

Since the first day of the year, India has recorded a total of 3,131 deaths till January 11, an average of 284 deaths per day across the nation. Experts opine that India is experiencing the Omicron-led third wave which may see the peak around February first week.

The Health Ministry has also underlined that the active cases that needed hospitalisation care was 20-23 per cent during the second Covid surge. However, only 5 to 10 per cent of active cases require hospital administration currently, even as the overall situation is evolving, and the need for hospitalisation care could change.

Experts say that lower hospitalisations and deaths could also be attributed to a wider vaccination coverage.

Talking to IANS, Dr Sunila Garg, Covid-19 Task Force member, said that the rising numbers of deaths could be attributed to the comorbidities and also the delay in reporting the infection.

“Our vaccines have 93 per cent efficacy which prevents the serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths but against the original strain of the coronavirus. Now, we don’t know whether the deaths are happening due to Omicron or Delta variant,” said Garg.

However, she added that “vaccination still prevents us against the severe infection and can be attributed to lower deaths comparing to the last wave”.

Speaking on the Delhi health department data which said that out of total 46 deaths recorded in January 5 to 9 in Delhi, 11 people were vaccinated with both doses of vaccines, Garg said “Delhi is a big state with a huge population and the virus affects everyone differently. Chances are there that they would have been administered the vaccines at later stages”.

The point is that vaccine prevents the serious illness and hospitalisation, she added.

“Vaccines are working efficiently that is the reason why hospitalisation rates are much lower despite rising cases of Omicron. The government has allowed the booster dose for the 60 plus population with comorbidities because as time advances, their immunity wanes and therefore, there is a need to boost their immunity against the virus. The vaccine still protects us from severe infection,” said Dr Neeraj Nischal, Additional Professor, Medicine, AIIMS.

In terms of deaths, in just 11 days in the 2022, India has recorded 3,573 deaths including 442 fatalities reported on Wednesday. The total death toll stands at 4,84,655 in India.

Tarun Kumar, professor of cardiology, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, said: “The virus may be mild but it may behave differently in those with comorbidities. Covid-19 patients with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular diseases (CVD), hypertension, malignancies, HIV, and other comorbidities could develop a life-threatening situation. The comorbidities lead to the Covid-19 patient into a vicious infectious circle of life and are substantially associated with significant morbidity and mortality”.

“Mortality associated with delta variant was 2-5 per cent and with Omicron variant data from different countries points towards nearly 1 per cent mortality. But the sheer number in short period of time could raise these numbers drastically. There should be no complacency especially in patients with multiple comorbidities, immunocompromised and unvaccinated,” he told IANS.

“If we have taken the both shots of Covid vaccine, the protection efficacy ranges between 50-70 per cent which does not mean that one is hundred per cent protected from Covid-19. In addition to the vaccination, one also needs to follow Covid appropriate behaviour. So other reasons could also be attributed to the morbidities and mortality,” said Ashutosh Shukla, Director, Internal Medicine at Max.


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