India has just emerged from the crisis posed by the second wave and the COVID case rate is on a constant decline. Many state governments have started to relax the strict lockdown measures.
But just as we had a sigh of relief, news of the impending third wave has started pouring in. Niti Ayog member VK Saswat has emphasized that India needs to prepare for the ‘inevitable’ third wave of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The third wave is expected to affect the younger people more and vaccination is the only way forward. Another challenge in combating the Coronavirus waves is the constantly mutating nature of the virus. The Kappa and Delta variant of the coronavirus was responsible for wreaking havoc across the country during the second wave. A new variant called Delta plus or AY.1 of coronavirus has been already identified in a few states. But this strain is not yet classified as a variant of concern.
What is an epidemic wave?
There is no universally accepted definition for an infection wave. The term ‘wave’ is used to signify the increasing or decreasing trend of the caseload in a country or a region. It can also be used to refer to the seasonality of an infection. Coronavirus disease has affected every country in the world but there is a clear trend of the abrupt rise and consequent fall in the number of positive cases. So far there have been two waves in India. It also differs from state to state. For example, the NCT of Delhi has experienced four distinct waves since the outbreak.
Is a Third Wave Inevitable?
Currently, the second wave has subsided, and the number of cases is on a declining trend. But many renowned epidemiologists have warned of an impending third wave. The problem is aggravated due to constant mutations and recurring variants of the coronavirus. If in the coming months, the coronavirus cases are again on an increasing trend and the trend continues for several weeks, then it will be qualified as the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. States like TN and Karnataka have already experienced a slight increase in the number of cases but the national trend continues to subside.
Will it be more Dangerous?
Generally, as the virus infects more and more people, the increasing size of the population develops an acquired immunity against it. So theoretically the consequent waves of the viruses are supposed to be milder. However, this theoretical explanation is defeated by the constantly changing nature of the virus. So far every emerging variant is more infectious and lethal. There are studies going on to find out the efficacy of vaccines against the emerging variants. Many commentators have predicted that the third wave might be more lethal due to these reasons. However, in the paucity of data and predictive models, the consequent trend of infectivity and mortality of the virus remains uncertain. The only way to protect oneself against the coronavirus disease is to get vaccinated and practice covid appropriate behavior like double masking and physical distancing.
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