With restrictions easing up in many states and tourists flocking to hill stations, it might feel like the worst is behind us. However, Professor Samiran Panda, a senior scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) warns that the third wave of COVID-19 will hit India around August-end, where the country will see almost 1 lakh cases every single day.
Addressing the severity of the third wave, Professor Panda says that if the virus doesn’t further mutate, then the situation will be similar to the first wave, reported India Today. But if it does mutate, then things could be worse.
Professor Panda is head of the division of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the ICMR.
Panda explains that while the third wave might not be as devasting as the second wave India witnessed, a low vaccination rate and easing of restrictions will lead to a surge in cases. This has been deduced by mathematical modelling done by ICMR along with the Imperial College London
“Looking at the present situation, one can assume that there will be the third wave,” Professor Panda told India Today TV. He further added that non-pharmacological interventions, like avoiding mass gatherings and wearing masks will help contain the spread of the infection.
Regarding India’s vaccination pace, Professor Panda agreed that the country needs a smart vaccination plan and reiterated that travel should be avoided as much as possible, as that leads to changes in population density.
He pointed towards another study conducted by the ICMR to evaluate breakthrough infections, 86 per cent of which were due to the Delta variant. Panda mentioned that getting vaccinated helps in reducing the lethal nature of the infection and will make the third wave less serious.
Along with Professor Panda, NITI Aayog’s Dr VK Paul has also issued a warning saying the next 100-125 days are critical in the fight against COVID-19.
Addressing a press conference, he said the world is moving towards the third wave of Covid and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has mentioned this and said it is a warning that everything cannot be taken for granted.
“Leaving the North and South American regions, all other WHO regions are moving from bad to worse. The world is moving towards a third wave and this is a fact. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too has asked us to take this as a red flag and warning…. The prime minister has given us the target to stall the third wave and it is possible,” Paul said, reported PTI.
“The question of the third wave keeps coming back. This is because our population is still very vulnerable. We still have not reached the stage of herd immunity nor have we reached the stage of infection and we do not want to acquire herd immunity through infections. We are progressing in terms of vaccines and nearly 50 per cent of our most vulnerable group above the age of 45 years is protected. This will also impact mortality and it will come down, but the infection can spread. We are vulnerable, the virus is still around,” he further added.
Earlier this week, on July 15, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the world about the ‘early stages’ of COVID-19 third wave amid Delta surge. He clearly stated that ‘we are now in the early stages of a third wave’.
The Delta variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and the inconsistent use of proven public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths, he claimed, as reported by ANI.
At present, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases surged to 3,10,64,908 with 38,079 new infections being reported in a day, while the recoveries have crossed 3.02 crore, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on July 17. The death count increased to 4,13,091 with 560 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.