Witnessing a large number of cases and an increase in number of deaths during the second wave, many are predicting that the third Covid-19 wave will be even more lethal in the country.
Ever since Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan warned of an impending third wave of Coronavirus in the country in early May, authorities and health experts have warned people of the third wave of Covid-19 several times. In addition, the authorities across the country have also started preparations in order to tackle the crisis which was sorely missing before the beginning of the second wave. Even though the exact timing of the third wave remains uncertain, VijayRaghavan few days later said that if strong measures are taken then the country could altogether avert the third wave, the Indian Express reported.
What is the meaning of a wave?
Devoid of a precise technical definition, the term ‘wave’ is used to signify the rising and falling trends of a disease over a long period of time. The term is also used to describe the seasonality of a disease or infection over successive periods of time. Over the last year, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected a majority of countries but there were clear trends of sudden increase and successive fall in the number of Coronavirus cases. In India there were two distinct waves of Covid-19 infections over the last one year with the first wave reaching its peak in September last year and the second wave beginning from March-April.
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Different states of the country have also experienced multiple waves of Coronavirus since the pandemic started. Take for example the case of the national capital which has witnessed four distinct periods/waves of sustained rise in the number of Covid-19 cases followed by a climbdown. In many regions of the country, it is difficult to point to a particular period as a wave. For example states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh did report an increase in the number of cases but there were no distinct peaks and falls in the number of cases which could be termed a wave.
What will qualify as the third wave?
Since the first week of May, the daily tally of Coronavirus cases in the country seems to be on a declining trend. From the highest tally of 4.14 lakh, the daily count of Covid-19 cases has now come down to 2.6 lakh. The decline in the number of active cases has also been sustained with the total number falling from the high of 37.45 lakh to about 32.25 lakh. If the declining trend continues then by some estimates the cases will come to the February 2020 level by the end of July, as per the Indian Express article.
If post July-August period, the national tally of Coronavirus cases experiences an increasing trend sustained over several weeks then it would be qualified as the third wave. Even as states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are reporting an increase in the number of cases, they are not as substantial to push the national tally up as other major contributing states like Maharashtra, UP, Delhi and Bihar are going through a declining trend.
Will the 3rd wave be more lethal?
Usually as the number of people who have been infected with the disease increases, the successive waves of infection are milder in comparison to the initial waves. However, in case of India, Coronavirus defied this logic as contrary to estimates only a miniscule population of the country had got infected with Coronavirus in the first wave and an overwhelming majority of people were still vulnerable to Coronavirus.
Witnessing a large number of cases and an increase in number of deaths during the second wave, many are predicting that the third Covid-19 wave will be even more lethal in the country. However the eventual shape of Covid-19 third wave, as and when it approaches, remains uncertain as a lot more people in the second wave have been infected and comparatively less population will remain susceptible to the virus during the third wave. Also, the country has started vaccination and in the coming few months plans to vaccinate a sizable population which will further leave less population susceptible to the virus.
However, no lessons would be learnt if one were to loosen one’s guard against the virus as it has defied predictions multiple times in the past. With more mutations getting reported in Coronavirus, scientists have expressed concern that some vaccines might not be 100 percent effective against new mutations of Coronavirus.