'Covid-19 infections can increase any time': Doctors on third wave

  • Experts highlighted that people cannot lower their guard against Covid-19 just yet.
New Delhi, India - July 25, 2021: A health worker takes a swab sample for Covid-19 test, near Chattarpur Metro Station, in New Delhi. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
New Delhi, India - July 25, 2021: A health worker takes a swab sample for Covid-19 test, near Chattarpur Metro Station, in New Delhi. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Published on Jul 25, 2021 11:00 PM IST
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Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Health experts said that despite a large number of people building immunity against Covid-19 due to previous infections or vaccinations, people cannot afford to lower their guard against Covid-19. Experts highlighted the need for following Covid-19 preventative measures strictly to avoid a second wave-like crisis.

AIIMS Delhi’s Dr Yudhyavir Singh who manages the Covid-19 ICU said the lifting of restrictions is necessary to resume economic activities at a time when cases are low but he highlighted the need of following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. Singh also said that Delhi may have already achieved herd immunity, considering the massive number of cases seen during the second wave, according to a report by news agency PTI.

Dr Pooja Khosla who is a senior consultant, department of medicine, at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said Covid-19 second wave taught people that an increase in cases can happen suddenly.

“There are warning signs from different parts of the world. In India too, a small increase in cases has been recorded. Infections can increase exponentially at any time. I think one should not assume anything and make all efforts to prevent a second wave-like crisis, which was a nightmare,” Khosla was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. She further added that reopening everything is not appropriate since everyone is speculating that the third wave is not so far away.

However, another expert said that despite breakthrough infections among vaccinated people the severity of the infections will be lesser. “Even if there are breakthrough infections among vaccinated people, the severity will be less and hospitals will not be overwhelmed,” Pragya Sharma, professor at the department of community medicine at the Maulana Azad Medical College said. She pointed out that preventative measures, as well as pace of vaccination, will be vital in decreasing the severity of infections among people in the third wave.

Sharma also highlighted that people have a callous approach towards Covid-19 preventative measures. “People either don't wear masks or don't wear them properly. Most of them use cloth masks, which doesn't serve any purpose. There is hardly any vigil being maintained in crowded areas,” Sharma further added. She also said that people are not turning up for vaccination as expected.

Dr Jugal Kishore said that 80% people have immunity against the virus either due to previous infection or due to vaccination. “The Delta variant of coronavirus was responsible for up to 60 per cent of the cases during the second wave. We haven't observed any major difference between 'Delta' and 'Delta Plus' variants. So, a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases is not expected, until a new, more infectious variant emerges,” Kishore who is head of the community medicine department said.

Kishore highlighted that at least 30% of the population of Delhi, who have either not been infected or did not develop enough antibodies despite getting vaccinated due to various reasons, could get infected.

“Two cases are possible – first, the virus continues to infect people slowly until herd immunity is attained, and second, a new, more infectious variant leads to an increase in cases till everyone has immunity. But it seems the third wave won't be as severe as the second,” Kishore said.

He further added that the possibility of a new variant bypassing immunity achieved through vaccination and previous infection could lead to major problems. He also said that if people from rural areas are coming to Delhi and those who have remained isolated so far are stepping out into crowded places there is a possibility of a spike in cases.

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