COVID-19, an infectious and deadly virus that continues to infect and kill Indians, is now wreaking havoc on their nation. Experts have now cautioned that India's unchecked virus epidemic poses a global threat.

The unchecked epidemic of COVID-19 in India, according to experts, helps the more lethal strains to mutate, transmit, and even evade vaccines.

According to a recent report in The New York Times, experts predicted that the COVID-19 epidemic in India would prolong the pandemic. They went on to say that this would cause the more harmful strains to spread, mutate, and potentially avoid vaccine efficacy.

India Imposes Nationwide Lockdown As The Coronavirus Continues To Spread
(Photo: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 29: Indian migrant workers and laborers along with their families stuck in the national capital, with and without protective masks crowd to board buses to return to their native villages, as nationwide lockdown continues over the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 29, 2020, in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts New Delhi, India. India is under a 21-day lockdown to fight the spread of the virus while security personnel on the roads are enforcing the restrictions in many cases by using force, the workers of the country's unorganized sector are bearing the brunt of the curfew-like situation. The lockdown has already disproportionately hurt marginalized communities due to loss of livelihood and lack of food, shelter, health, and other basic needs. The lockdown has left tens of thousands of out-of-work migrant workers stranded, with rail and bus services shut down. According to international labor organizations, 90 percent of India's workforce is employed in the informal sector and most do not have access to pensions, sick leave, paid leave, or any kind of insurance. 

Because of the high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in India, several countries have also enacted travel bans to prevent the virus from spreading. CNN said the US would begin imposing travel restrictions on those coming from India starting later this week.

Those Who Got COVID-19 Vaccine Should Remain Cautious

New York Times said the United States had made great strides in vaccinating its population, with 44 percent of adults receiving at least one injection. Still, researchers believe the country is also far from achieving so-called herd immunity, where the virus can't spread quickly because there aren't enough hosts. Vaccine apprehension remains a significant barrier to crossing the line.

Vaccines, on the other hand, are still scarce in many parts of the world, especially in poorer countries. In India, only about 2% of the population has received any of their vaccinations.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told The New York Times that we couldn't let the virus run free in other areas of the world if we want to put this pandemic behind us.

According to preliminary data, the vaccines are effective against the varieties, though others are somewhat less effective.

"For now, the vaccines remain effective," said Dr. Céline Gounder, an infectious disease physician, and epidemiologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York. However, she claims that there is a downward trend in the efficacy rate of the jabs.

ALSO READ: Failure to Take Second Vaccine Dose Would Prolong COVID-19 Pandemic   

What Are the COVID-19 Variants Now?

B.1.1.7, a particularly infectious variant, was the leading cause of the outbreak in the United Kingdom earlier this year. This latest version has now made its way to the United States and a few European countries.

Over the weekend, India reported 401,993 new cases in a single day. So far, this is the world's highest record since the pandemic started. However, analysts said per the New Zealand Herald that the actual figures are higher than what is reported and registered.

What is behind India's second wave is a mystery to virologists. Some have speculated that a homegrown variant known as B.1.617 is to blame. Still, researchers outside of India claim the limited evidence points to B.1.1.7.

RELATED ARTICLE: COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson Vaccine: Blood Clots No Impact to Efficacy, Will Jabs Work for Mutant Coronavirus Variants? 

Check out more news and information on COVID-19 on Science Times.