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More 0-19 yr olds falling sick in India’s second Covid wave than last time, says ICMR

ICMR data also highlights that this time around, entire families have been contracting Covid if even one person tests positive unlike in the previous wave.

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New Delhi: A far higher proportion of people in the 0-19 age group has been affected during the second coronavirus wave, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) flagged in a meeting of the Covid-19 task force Thursday.

However, the data was found to be wanting on some parameters and the council has now been asked to reassess the numbers and come back with the fresh findings.

Sources said that while the data does show that many more children are being affected this time, it could be a function simply of the opening up process, reopening of schools and colleges rather than any change in the virus behaviour or its mutation.

Sources in the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also said that the two defining features of the second wave are that entire families are testing positive and far more young people have got the disease.

“ICMR data does show that this time many more 0-19 year olds have been affected than last time. However, it does not necessarily mean that the virus is behaving differently. Last time young people were almost entirely at home. Even the shopping or essential activities were being carried out by the adults. Things have changed now,” said an official who was present in the task force meeting.

“There has been significant opening up they are going out to play, the older children are even going to schools and colleges. So we have to be very careful how we interpret this data,” the official added.

The official also said that the fact that vaccinations over the last three months have mostly targeted older age groups, they now have some sort of protection against the virus unlike young people who are the least vaccinated.

These are mostly people who are not employed, which means the only way young people can get the shots is if they are healthcare or frontline workers. But that option is also closed for them.

Also read: Modi govt wants more Covid vaccines, but Moderna is ‘not keen’ & Pfizer has this ‘condition’

Entire families affected this time

Officials in the NCDC said the defining feature of the second wave has been the fact that unlike last time, now when one person in a family tests positive, all inhabitants of the same household are also getting the disease.

“We are seeing a lot more young people that are affected. Part of the reason is that last time we saw many, many instances when one person got the disease, isolated himself and the rest of the family was spared. But now when one person is testing positive everybody else is getting it too,” said an NCDC official.

Virologist Shahid Jameel, who is also the director of Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, agreed that the trend of whole families getting the disease together is a new one.

“It is possible that this has happened because of the emergence of new variants such as the UK strain that are more infectious. But it is also certainly true that there are many more asymptomatic cases this time. That could be because of the age group also. In Delhi we have analysed that the virus this time is 50 per cent more infectious,” he said.

Also read: Raipur has run out of hearse vans as Covid toll rises, hospitals sending out bodies in trucks


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