India began to reopen after the second wave of Covid-19 infections destroyed the country in April and May. But now, authorities warn that a third wave could hit in the next few months. Succeeding waves are expected, but their hardness and spread depend on several circumstances.
Even the Courts have asked state governments over their preparation. Some experts have suggested that a third wave could hit within 12-16 weeks, and others are anxious that new variants, including the much-talked-about Delta plus, could undermine existing vaccines.
The number of regular daily cases in India has fallen to just above 50,000 in recent days. It is falling from the peaks of 400,000 in May. The decline in numbers has primarily been associated with strict lockdowns by states. Gathering in markets, election assemblies and religious festivals were criticised for the second wave. Bad policy decisions, inadequate surveillance and ignoring early warnings were some of the other analyses. Suppose the same misconceptions are repeated, India is once again at a sensitive phase, and how people function will largely resolve the fate of the next wave.
States must reestablish the economy gradually. Safety protocols require to be implemented at a localised level” – if specific businesses and institutions don’t follow the rules, they should be penalised.
The Delta variant mainly drove the second wave. Experts consider that more such variants could appear in future if the virus is released to run through the still susceptible population. The Indian government has stated that a new variant, titled Delta plus, is a “variant of concern”. But there is not sufficient data at the time to say that it could create the third wave.
The warning of new variants derailing development will exist as long-drawn as the virus continues spreading. So we require to scale up further sequencing exercises to identify dangerous variants early and apply containment measures. India had sequenced 30,000 units until June, but specialists believe more needs to be arranged. Current vaccines appear to act on known variants – but there is no guarantee that they will work on new variants. There have also been people becoming ill despite being vaccinated, particularly after getting the first dose. So another wave is inevitable, but India can delay and contain it with suitable measures like sequencing – to keep an eye on mutations – and strictly implementing safety protocols.
The result of the third wave also depends on what level of immunity India’s community has – both from previous infections and from doses. The country equated 3.25 million doses each day from 9 to 22 June. But it demands to reach 8.5-9 million doses every day to achieve its aim of vaccinating the eligible community by the end of 2021. Just above 4% of Indians are fully vaccinated, and nearly 18% have taken one dose so far. Millions will still be exposed if the pace doesn’t pick up, although immunity from past Covid infections can defend people.
The velocity of India’s vaccination drive requires to pick up. But it’s hard to ascertain the number of Indians who were affected and may have acquired natural antibodies to combat the virus. Many municipalities, towns and villages strived to get tested and have no means of comprehending if they held the infection. Even the amount of Covid deaths has been under-reported.
Even if a significant portion of the Indian population has already been contaminated, there is still approximately 20%-30% who have not. Moreover, it involves those who are old or immunocompromised. Therefore, India should focus on surveillance to ensure that any rise in cases is detected fast.
People cannot accept Covid lightly as India still has a sizeable sensitive community, and the warning of potentially deadlier variants still approaches. However, the third wave is fixed. It’s up to us to delay it and limit its impact—so spare a thought for healthcare workers who have been in this fight for more than a year. Just don’t let the guard down.