India might be entering the endemic stage of Covid-19, World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Tuesday, The Wire reported.

According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an endemic is the “constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area”.

“We may be entering some kind of stage of endemicity where there is low level transmission or moderate level transmission going on but we are not seeing the kinds of exponential growth and peaks that we saw a few months ago,” Swaminathan told the news website in an interview.

The WHO chief scientist said that because of the diverse population and immunity status in various parts of India, it was quite likely that the situation might continue like this with “ups and downs in different parts of the country”.

Swaminathan added that this might particularly happen in places where the population is more susceptible. “So those groups who were perhaps less affected by first and second waves or those areas with low levels of vaccine coverage could see peaks and troughs for the next several months,” she told The Wire.

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Speaking about the Covid-19 situation in Kerala, Swaminathan said the decline in cases over the last week could be because of the reduction in testing rates.

“Perhaps it has to do with the Onam festival and so on and the test positivity rates are up, so I wouldn’t go too much by the drop in cases in the last week,” she told The Wire. “We will wait and see what happens in the subsequent weeks and whether that is a sustained trend.”

Swaminathan said monitoring Covid-19 variants and genomic sequencing was important. “We need to look at areas where there seems to be continued high transmission or a surge happening,” she said, according to The Wire. “Just like the Delta variant came upon us, we need to ensure that we are not caught by surprise by another variant.”

Swaminathan said it was impossible to predict when the third wave of infections would hit India but could make an “informed guess” based on variables that affect transmission

“These are: your background level of population, immunity, natural infection and vaccination coverage, how are your personal and public health measures and variants etc,” Swaminathan said. “If any of these change or if all of them change in combination, which is what happened during the second wave, that’s what we need to be monitoring.”

India registered 25,467 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing the tally of infections to 3,24,74,773 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. With 354 deaths, the country’s toll rose to 4,35,110.