NEW DELHI — The Indian health system is predicted by Kanpur and Hyderabad’s Indian Institute of Technology to be hit by the third wave of Covid-19 resurgence in mid-August and outbreaks for October, but that hinges on the mutations and or the transmissibility of the variant, said Gagandeep Kang, a virologist.
“The third wave depends on type variants or strains, and if driven by variant, it becomes very difficult to predict the numbers,” said Kang, vice-chair for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Board and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
“I think a lot depends on whether the wave is driven by variants or driven by strains. If it’s driven by variants, then it becomes very difficult to predict what the numbers are likely to be.”
She said that if the wave is driven by strains, the number of Covid-19 cases is likely to be less.
“If it is driven by strains, then we know numbers are likely to be less,” said Kang. “I am actually not very sure about the timing of the third wave or whether we will have a third wave in August or September at all.”
“We know that this is a virus that is dependent on the environment, and I think what we see from certain other parts of the world is that there may be some seasonal elements to this virus. We have to get through another winter and see how that plays out, in determining how much we see and when.”
Responding to a question on the United States reporting a higher number of cases and whether India can face a similar spike in Covid-19 cases, the virologist said: “Of course, I think as long as virus replication continues to happen, the chances of a new variant emerging are very very high, and the most urgent thing that we can do is to protect ourselves from virus replication as much as possible.”
She said it solely depended on whether we make sure people are not getting infected.
“One thing we can do is preventing people from getting sick so that the healthcare system does not get overburdened,” Kang said.
“But if we want to prevent the emergence of a new variant, we also have to prevent transmission of the disease because any amount of replication will continue to be a threat. That is what we see with delta. Newer variants can infect people who have been vaccinated.”
She stressed that it is essential for both the vaccinated as well as unvaccinated people to take precautionary measures and protect themselves from the disease.
“It’s very important for us to continue to study this virus and make sure that we can limit infections both in the vaccinated and unvaccinated,” she said.
With eight states in India showing an upsurge in Covid-19 cases and the festival season around the corner, Kang said it can lead to a rise in cases if Covid-19 advisory is not followed.
“Layered interventions need to be followed,” Kang said.
“Everybody knows what needs to be done, but the problem is people don’t do it, and they don’t do it consistently, and I understand that people get tired. You want to see your family, want to relax a little.” However, she said for social restrictions to be eased, immunization will have to expand from the family level to the community level to the global level.
“Move out only if you need to go out,” the eminent scientist said.
“What is really important is that we should be wearing masks, maintain social distancing. We should be looking at clean places that are fully ventilated, avoid crowded places, and of course, we should be making sure that who is around is vaccinated. All of these are layered interventions. It’s important to have these in place.”
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani
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