Experts have predicted the third wave of COVID-19 to hit India by the end of August and reach its peak by September. GYAN PATHAK discusses the concerns, predictions and how the nation can prepare.
NDIA may be only three to six weeks away from the predicted third wave of COVID-19.
Concerns about the third wave
The cause of worry is also due to several reasons apart from this high level of fluctuation in new cases both at all India level as well as regional and state levels. Our central and state governments are not fully prepared to handle the third wave if it strikes in the later half of August and may reach its peak in September.
Other causes of concern are of opening up the economy with relaxations being given in containment zones in all parts of the country with an attitude of complacency.
The low level of vaccination coverage and laxity on the part of the general public who are crowding public places in large numbers and often without even the minimum level of protection, such as masks is also an issue.
The sounding of alarm must be seen in this general background even though we have achieved a recovery rate of 97.39 per cent. It should not make us complacent because we still have 2.61 per cent potential patients who may be facing a threat to life if infected by present variants of the virus.
Since we already know some of the variants, such as the delta variant, which may bypass the immunity of many people created due to earlier infections or inoculation, the level of threat could significantly increase.
Another cause of concern is the nature of the virus to mutate. If new more infectious and fatal variants emerge, the country would be in greater trouble than it is predicted.
Predictions about the third wave
One of the assessments about the predicted third wave is that daily cases of infection may rise to around one lakh. Since experts are telling this, we cannot contradict them even though as of today we have over 46,000 new infections, but we have every reason to doubt that their assessment might be conservative.
If the third wave strikes, the daily infection may be much higher than their assessment. It is chiefly because India has still more than 40 crore vulnerable people.
We have landed on this figure after deducting the figure given by the serosurvey conducted in the country that found the presence of antibodies in their blood indicating their immunity from COVID-19. They are former corona patients. Additionally, we have 44.61 crore people who have been administered at least one dose of the vaccine. Though it is a matter of some relief, the persisting high level of vulnerability is a serious cause of concern.
The number of recoveries is still less than the number of daily infections with a high fatality rate.
India’s active caseload may increase and handling them effectively with our limited medical facilities and professionals could remain problematic. In such a scenario, medical facilities will get overwhelmed again.
Numbers across the country
Currently our caseload is around four lakh patients and active cases constitute 1.27 per cent of total cases. The Weekly Positivity Rate remains below 5 per cent, currently at 2.36 per cent and the Daily Positivity Rate is at 2.51 per cent, remaining below 5 per cent.
The testing capacity substantially has been ramped up and we have tested 46.09 crore, people, as of now. However, we should never forget that we are a total of about 140 crore people.
We have an increasing trend of infections in 22 districts of the country while 54 have reported more than 10 per cent positivity rate for the week ending July 26. Moreover, the behaviour of the virus cannot be taken for granted.
Steps taken by the Union Ministry of Health
The Union Ministry of Health has appealed to the people not to show laxity towards following Covid-appropriate behaviour as co-infection along with coronavirus could be “problematic” for them in the monsoon season.
It also needs to take appropriate steps ranging from removing complacency of the officials and to be ready in their preparedness to face the third wave if we fail in preventing it.
Containment measures need to be handled more carefully especially in the regions witnessing a high level of infection. Medical preparedness is more important too as well as economic support to the vulnerable.
The Union Ministry of Health has already been talking to the states about all the areas of concern. It must be followed with concrete action in terms of helping them with resources for putting medical facilities in place. It also includes speeding up vaccination by making vaccines available at the inoculation centre.
People also must follow all the preventive measures as per COVID-19 guidelines recommended by experts. Any laxity at this stage would be too costly to bear because the first and second wave has left us with little resources. Our corona warriors are also exhausted. (IPA Service)