Amid concerns about the rising R-value, rate of vaccination, and easing of lockdown norms, the third wave has arrived at the doorstep of India, as per a report by Bloomberg.
A smaller wave
A study by a group of researchers led by Mathukumalli Vidyasagar and Manindra Agrawal at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Hyderabad and Kanpur respectively have predicted that India may see a worsening of its outbreak as soon as this month, with the next wave peaking with less than 100,000 infections a day, in the best-case scenario, or nearly 150,00 in the worst scenario in October. They have, however, pointed out that the third wave is likely to be 'smaller' than the second wave, which peaked at a record 400,000-plus daily cases on 7 May, owing to the high levels of natural immunity. A national antibody survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research study last month had found that two-thirds of Indians above the age of six had been exposed to the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the researchers said that states reporting a high number of COVID-19 cases like Kerala and Maharashtra may play a significant role in "skewing" the case count during the third wave. But even then, physical distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene, and avoiding long periods indoors in poorly ventilated, busy places can still keep the virus at bay, as per the emergencies director of World Health Organisation (WHO) Michael Ryan.
No scope for complacency
According to doctors problems of the first wave were not the problems of the second wave and the problems of the second wave may not surface in the third wave, as per ET, indicating that there is absolutely no scope for complacency. These predictions and suggestions come in the wake of several states, including Maharashtra and Karanataka, easing lockdown norms; pictures of crowded tourist destinations surfacing on social media, reports of only 7.6 percent population being vaccinated in India and the coronavirus delta variant being declared as contagious as chickenpox.
Is India ready?
After the new Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya took charge on 8 July he announced the India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package: Phase-II (ECRP-II) amounting to Rs 23,123 crore for FY 2021-22, 15 percent of which was released on 31 July. It will be used to augment health infrastructure at the state, district and sub-district levels.
The governments are also better prepared following the first and the second waves. The Centre has also identified 46 districts in 10 states that have logged a positivity rate of above 10 percent. The states are Maharashtra, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Assam, Manipur, and Meghalaya. It has asked the states concerned to impose stricter restrictions to curb the rise in infections.
Meanwhile, the country has improved its vaccination rates last month by administering 12.9 crore doses in July, compared with 11.27 crore in June, according to data from the government's CoWin dashboard.