COVID-19 third wave likely to hit by August-end, can be less intense than second wave: ICMR


New Delhi: As India worries about the possible third COVID-19 wave, Dr Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in an interview with NDTV said that the third wave might hit the country at the end of August and is likely to be less intense than the second wave. 

“There would be a nationwide third wave but that does not mean that it would be as high or as intense as the second wave,” he told NDTV. 

Panda also pointed out various reasons which can lead to the third wave. If the immunity acquired in the first and second waves goes down, it can lead to a third wave. 

Another reason can be that a COVID-19 variant can bypass the immunity acquired. The third thing that can cause the next wave is that the new variant may not be able to bypass immunity but might circulate fast in the population.

Panda’s last reason was that if the coronavirus-induced restrictions are lifted prematurely by states, it could lead to a fresh surge in infections. 

He added, “I’m not expecting any more public health havoc from the Delta variant”.

Panda’s comments come as AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria on Thursday listed likely causes of a possible third wave of COVID-19. He warned waning immunity, the emergence of a more transmissible coronavirus variant capable of escaping the immunity shield and lockdown relaxations as the possible causes. 

Further, Guleria said that third wave can be mitigated by following COVID-appropriate behaviour such as maintaining social distancing, using masks, and vaccinating the population, PTI reported. 

He informed that several studies and modelling have been conducted to project the trajectory of a possible third wave under different scenarios. “One such model from an IIT shows that if all restrictions are lifted and if a virus (variant) is also able to escape immunity then the next wave can be bigger than the second wave.”

“If some restrictions are kept and the virus also remains stable then cases will not be much and if we keep more restrictions then cases will further reduce,” he stated. 

Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said that the world was entering ‘early stages’ of the third wave of the pandemic as cases of Delta variant surge. 

Underlining the importance of vaccination, Tedros reiterated that at least 10 per cent of the population of every country should be inoculated by September 2021, at least 40 per cent by the end of 2021, and at least 70 per cent by mid-2022.

(With agency inputs)

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