Given the unbridled surge in the cases of COVID 19, the Prime Minister’s Principal Scientific Advisor said on Wednesday that a third wave of Covid-19 was unavoidable, but that they couldn’t predict when it will happen. Dr. K V VijayRaghavan also acknowledged that the “ferocity” of the second wave that the country is grappling with, had surprised experts.
“Phase 3 is unavoidable given the high levels of circulating virus,” VijayRaghavan said at a Union Health Ministry briefing.’’Hopefully, incrementally, but we should prepare for new waves. Previous infections and vaccines will cause adaptive pressure on the virus for new kinds of changes which try to escape, and, therefore, we should be prepared, scientifically to take care of that”, the Principal Scientific Advisor added. These new versions, according to VijayRaghavan, are “fitter” viruses, capable of breaking through enhanced host immunity. He believes that as the virus adapts, the severity of the disease will increase or decrease, but that the rate of transmission will likely slow.
“While vaccines are successful against current variants, new variants will emerge across the globe. However, variants that increase transmission will possibly plateau, while immune-evasive variants, as well as those that reduce or increase disease severity, will emerge,” he said.
According to him, the first wave peaked in September of last year and then began to decline due to two factors. As the number of infections increased, so did the number of people sick. The propagation of the first wave was stopped by a combination of population immunity and precautionary measures, he said. The PSA also attributed the second surge to both the fact that immunity from the first wave was not widespread and a lowering of guard.
The inevitability of a third wave is foreboding for the country as the country struggles with the second wave that has plunged India into a health emergency. The news of an inevitable third wave comes at a time when India has recorded a new high of over 4.12 lakh Covid cases, 3,980 deaths in the last 24 hours.