In an interview with news website Wire, Swaminathan said that India – like several other countries – is reaching a stage where “contagion rates are low”, unlike “the exponential and peak growth we saw a few months ago”.
The endemic stage of any disease is reached when a large part of the population becomes immune to a disease – either through vaccination or through antibodies acquired from a previous infection.
Under these circumstances, the spread of the disease began to slow down, explained epidemiologist Dr. Lalit Kant.
Leading virologist Dr Shahid Jameel said endemic did not mean infection did not occur.
“It just means it doesn’t cause widespread disease.”
Swaminathan suggested that while India will continue to experience “up and down” at the regional level, it is unlikely to see the extraordinary spike in infections seen during the second wave when patients suffer from acute shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen.
He added that given India’s heterogeneous population, there will be local peaks among people “who may be less affected by the first and second waves, or in areas where vaccine coverage is low”.
However, he said “there is no crystal ball” to predict with certainty “when, where and how bad the third wave will be” and “all one can do is make smart guesses”.