With the rise of the delta variant of coronavirus, the big question as we near the festive season is if the third wave of COVID-19 is making a comeback?
Dr Samiran Panda, the head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) warned that the states which did not face an intense second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic are now showing an increase of COVID-19 cases which could signal early signs of the third wave.
Panda said that it is important to not talk of India as a whole and to instead take a state-specific view when talking about COVID-19 because all the states are not homogenous.
“Several states began imposing COVID-19 restrictions and increased vaccinations, learning from Delhi and Maharashtra. Due to this, the second wave in several states was not as intense, leaving scope for a third wave. Therefore, the increasing number of COVID-19 infections in some states presently is indicating a third wave,” Panda said
Speaking to NewsMobile, Dr. Ambrish Mittal, Chairman & Head, Endocrinology & Diabetes at Max Healthcare shared a similar view:
“Third-wave will not happen in a pan-Indian fashion. It will be different levels of waves in different parts of India. It is very likely metro cities have developed an immunity to the virus for 6-8 months,” Dr Ambrish said.
The Centre asked all states and union territories to ensure there is no large gathering during the upcoming festival season and, if necessary, impose local restrictions to check the spread of coronavirus.
Extending the ongoing COVID-19 guidelines for one more month till September 30, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the overall pandemic situation now appears to be largely stable at the national level, except for the localised spread observed in a few states including Kerala.
Recently, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) urged Mumbai residents to undergo a COVID-19 test if they have any symptoms or they come in contact with an infected person.
Citizens are requested to get tested at earliest if they come in contact with any Covid-19 positive patient or if any symptoms are found.
Free RTPCR and Antigen testing is available at over 250 Centres across Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/JA9JDhVKs2
— माझी Mumbai, आपली BMC (@mybmc) August 27, 2021
“The delta variant of Coronavirus has already spread to 11 countries so far, including India, raising fears that it could drive the next wave of infections across the world. The progression of illness seems to be prevented by vaccination. Early diagnosis is the key to prevent the spread of the disease as well as the recovery of the patients and to reduce the hospital stay. Hence, BMC has established over 250 testing centres, which include municipal dispensaries, maternity homes, and ward offices where free Rt-PCR and Antigen testing is available to citizens,” the notification read.
Vulnerability Of Children To The Third Wave
In India, the impact of the third wave is being predicted to hit children the worst. A panel set up by the central government warned that a third wave of COVID-19 pandemic could peak around October. The report added that children might be at similar risk as adults in the anticipated third wave. The report suggests that children remain a cause of concern since they are still not vaccinated.
“Many health experts had initially raised concerns about the possibility of a third wave affecting children more adversely than adults. However, recent scientific data suggests otherwise,” the report said.
The Lancet Covid-19 Commission India Task Force has also concluded that there is no current evidence that an anticipated third wave will target children specifically,” the report said.
But to be on the safe side, here are few guidelines issued by the government for protecting children during the third wave:
- Vaccination among children should be a top priority while dealing with the anticipated third COVID wave.
- Vaccination among younger children and children with co-morbidities should be an immediate future priority.
- Teachers and school staff must be vaccinated as essential workers throughout the country.
- If a child is positive then there should be a place where hospitals can accommodate the parents as well and vice versa.
In its report, the panel stated there was no direct evidence to link the delta variant as the main driver of the third Covid-19 wave in India. However it remains a cause of concern, the report said.
ICMR’s Dr Samiran Panda Panda however has an alternate view on the vulnerability of children due to the third wave
“The fourth national serosurvey clearly shows that more than 50 per cent of children are infected, a little less than adults. So, we need not panic unnecessarily,” Panda said.
Further, he added that the more important issue rather than wondering if or not it is safe to open schools is to prepare well.
Panda warned that for states which didn’t experience an intense second wave, the schools should be reopened gradually and with caution,” he said
High COVID-19 Cases In Kerala
NewsMobile Exclusive with Dr NK Arora, Chief of India’s COVID Task Force
🔲India’s COVID battle plan for the third wave
🔲Vaccination for children and upcoming Made In India vaccine
— NewsMobile (@NewsMobileIndia) July 31, 2021
While the second wave of the pandemic is subsiding, cases in Kerala are on the rise steadily for the past 2 months. Could this be a warning signal for the third wave? Speaking exclusively to NewsMobile India’s COVID Task Force Chief Dr. NK Arora said :
“The situation in Kerala is the tail of the second wave, not the harbinger of the 3rd wave. But still, we should not slip up and follow precautions”
But what has led to the increase in cases? The surge in cases was noticed 2 days after Onam festival relaxations. India’s COVID Task Force Chief Dr NK Arora has said that there is another reason for the surge and that has to do with vaccinations:
“Clusters of unimmunised people in Kerala, Northeast and 20-30 districts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh need to be vaccinated for complete herd immunity”
Even though recently India made headlines globally for 10 million doses of the vaccine were administered in a single day across the country for the first time since the start of the mass inoculation programme on January 16, some pockets are still unimmunised. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has announced that a night curfew would be enforced in the state from Monday (August 30) from 10pm to 6 am to prevent the spread of the virus.
So how do we prevent the third wave? All health experts say that following standard COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands have to be followed. Dr Ambrish Mittal, Chairman & Head, Endocrinology & Diabetes at Max Healthcare, told NewMobile that before the immunity conferred by devasting second wave wanes, vaccination of the entire population will give a good chance of stopping the third wave in its tracks. However, a possibility of the virus further mutating into a more virulent variant might be a sign of worry as India approaches the festive season.