COVID-19’s third wave, which is expected to arrive by the end of August, may be less intense than the second wave: ICMR

New Delhi, India As India frets about the possibility of a third COVID-19 wave, Dr Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), told NDTV that the third wave is likely to be less severe than the second wave.

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

Panda also mentioned several factors that could lead to the third wave. If the immunity gained in the first and second waves deteriorates, a third wave may occur.

Another reason could be that a COVID-19 variant can circumvent the acquired immunity. The third factor that may cause the next wave is that the new variant may not be able to circumvent immunity but may spread quickly in the population.

Panda’s final reason was that if states lift the coronavirus-induced restrictions too soon, it could lead to a new wave of infections.

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

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

Furthermore, Guleria stated that the third wave can be avoided by practising COVID-appropriate behaviour such as maintaining social distance, wearing masks, and vaccinating the population, according to PTI.

He stated that several studies and modelling have been carried out in order to project the trajectory of a possible third wave under various scenarios. “One such model from an IIT shows that if all restrictions are lifted and a virus (variant) is also able to evade immunity, the next wave could be larger than the second.”

“If some restrictions are maintained and the virus remains stable, the number of cases will be low, and if more restrictions are maintained, the number of cases will be even lower,” he said.

Earlier, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the world was in the “early stages” of the third wave of the pandemic as Delta variant cases increased.

To emphasise the importance of vaccination, Tedros stated that at least 10% of the population in each country should be immunised by September 2021, 40% by the end of 2021, and 70% by mid-2022.

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