PESHAWAR: Public health experts believe that the worst might be over with regard to Omicron as a large portion of the population in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa might have been naturally immunised with mild or no symptoms of coronavirus.

The virus claimed 10 more lives in the province on Thursday, according to a report of the health department.

Physicians said that Covid-19 infected nearly all people, who appeared either asymptomatic or symptomatic, but the effect of the Omicron variant was mild and people were safe from major illness till the emergence of another variant of the virus. The emergence of another variant of the virus is expected due to high transmission at the global level.

They said that vaccination and adherence to Covid-19 precautions including hand hygiene, wearing a face mask and observing social distancing were still significant to deal with the virus. They said that the virus was likely to remain around.

Doctors say new Covid variant can emerge due to high transmission of the virus

“It is already playing its role in curtailing Covid-19. But the issue is the new variant cropping now and then, causing a resurgence of the infectious disease,” Prof Khalid Mahmood told Dawn when asked if partial immunity was one of the reasons behind the decrease in the number of mortalities due to the virus.

He said that unvaccinated people were naturally inoculated because all of them had been infected with the virus. He said that frequency of the virus was already going down and so was the severity of the disease.

“I believe it is going to disappear altogether in the coming days or become so milder that it will be indistinguishable from seasonal flu,” said Prof Kahlid, a former physician at Lady Reading Hospital.

He said when the disease infected every potential person and the partial immunity of the population developed due to the clinical infections and vaccination, the pandemic was likely to ease off and might end unless there was resurgence of another serious variant.

Prof Ziaul Haq, the vice-chancellor of Khyber Medical University, is of the opinion that majority of the people may have already got some exposure, acquired or natural to the coronavirus, which may be among the causative factors for fewer fatalities and hospitalisations than the previous waves of the pandemic where hospitalists were overloaded with infected persons.

He said that it showed the level of preparedness and timely response at the government’s level and realisation of the problem by the people at large due to which they were safe from the disease but immunisation should continue.

However, he said that depending on how the new variant would behave that was round the corner anytime given the huge level of transmission of the virus globally.

Prof Zia said that the new variant would be less severe than Omicron in transmission and wouldn’t make the victims seriously sick. He said that vaccination proved to be a great shield against the pandemic and would remain so with the booster shots. He added that the acute phase of the pandemic would be over towards the last quarter of the current year.

A report of the health department said that the mortalities due to Covid-19 reached 6,177 in the province with passing away of 10 more persons, all in Peshawar. It said that Mardan reported 295 infections, Peshawar 204, Malakand 58, Buner 52 and Swat 15 while Swabi recorded 12 cases. The number of active cases in the province is 11,814.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2022

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