Will the festive season trigger the third wave?
It's festival time in India and despite the Covid cloud public places are buzzing across the country. A decline in cases, with numbers hovering around the 20,000 mark and a surge in vaccination, crossing the 900million mark, has boosted confidence. However, the policymakers have been sending warning signs, alerting of an imminent third wave, that may see a sporadic rise in cases. Recently, the Indian Council of Medical Research, ICMR, warned that revenge tourism may trigger the third wave, with cases surging by over 40%.
As we begin the festivities the most pertinent question being asked is, is the worst over for India and has Covid-19 now turned into an endemic, as being suggested by few experts or is it the lull before the storm? hindustantimes.com Editor- Audience Engagement, Vertika Kanaujia, speaks to eminent public health experts - Dr. Raj Shankar Ghosh, Senior Advisor, Vaccine Delivery, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Anant Bhan, Researcher – Global Health, Bioethics and Health Policy and Dr. Ratna Devi, Chair of the Board of Trustees, International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations, to help us decipher the current situation and the road ahead.
Talking about fears of the much-touted third wave, Dr Bhan said, “during the festive season adherence to public health measures is drastically going down. It is likely that there would be more possibility of exposure."
"Schools and colleges are opening, offices are calling employees back and markets are flooded with people, this is a cause for worry. However, vaccination has been the saving grace. It is likely that the third wave will not be as severe. We can expect upward trends but not a significant surge," he added.
Globally, and in India too, overconfidence has been observed among the youth over a falsely presumed invulnerability, that clubbed with vaccine production concerns, can India meet its December deadline for full vaccination coverage?
Dr Ghosh believes, ‘considering the current covid vaccination coverage pace India should be in a position to vaccinate its entire population by the first quarter of 2022.’
As we stare at a third wave that may or may not come, schools are set to open. Even as we understand that school reopening has become a necessity now - but does the benefit of opening schools outweighs the risks?
Dr Ratna Devi said, “benefits, especially of mental health, far outweigh the risks because children are supposed to be in the playgrounds and not confined to homes. Several schools have opened but there have been no major concerns reported as comorbidity burden on children is far less.”