ARE WE READY TO FACE THE THIRD WAVE?
According to an IIT Kanpur study articulated in the 1st week of December 2021, the third wave of Coronavirus in India is likely to peak on 3rd February 2022, and then slowly taper off in doses, over 2 to 3 months.
Using Gaussian Mixture model to fit the COVID-19 data, and factoring in the data from the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, including confirmed total cases, new cases, total and new deaths from various countries available; and finally, monitoring the trends happening across the world, the IIT researchers believe that the third wave of COVID-19 in India is likely to see a peak caseload of 1.5 lakh per day. The trajectory of the third wave is predicted to be similar to that of the first wave.
Medical experts however fear a nightmare scenario could occur if the virus variant is driven by a high rate of infectiousness. But at the same time, they feel that as per available evidence to date, the overall impact fuelled by Omicron will appear to be milder than that of the deadly Delta variant.
Now, the question uppermost in people’s minds is whether INDIA is really prepared to face the third wave that is already weaving its wave across the country.
Is India Ready For The Third Wave?
The third wave is already here in India. Many health experts believe that India has learned a lot from the after-effects of the second wave. They also feel it will be better controlled when compared to the devastation unleashed by the deadly second wave.
The following points will justify the fact that India is ready to face the third wave.
- 3RD wave will be more controlled, as cases will be much less. This will be made possible as more vaccinations would be rolled out. This in turn will give most people some degree of natural immunity.
- Central and State Governments are better prepared this time around. A good example of this is the data provided by the Government, which reveals that the dedicated hospitals to treat COVID patients have risen 27 times to 4500, plus beds from April 2020. In addition, more than 18,000 other centers have been set up for treating less-severe patients. Similarly, oxygen-supported beds have risen eight-fold since April 2020.
- Central Government has installed 3,236 pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants procured from different sources across India. The total commissioned oxygen capacity was 3783 MT. In addition, 114,000 oxygen concentrators are being delivered to different states under PM CARES. COVID-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package-II, or ECRP-II. ECRP-11 funds have also been sanctioned to different states for installing 958 liquid medical oxygen storage tanks and medical gas pipeline systems in 1374 hospitals.
- Central Government has increased isolation beds across India. The capacity of isolation beds and ICU beds has been enhanced to 18,03,266 isolation beds and 1,24,598 ICU beds as of 3rd August 2021.
- Special pediatric wards are set up in almost all states. This is to take care of the unvaccinated children who are most vulnerable to the new mutations.
- Better awareness about the virus. People are more conscious about the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene). In addition, there is greater awareness of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent child and maternal mortality stunting, etc.
- Central Government is looking to vaccinate a great majority of the 944 million adults with one dose at least before the onset of another COVID wave. As per available data, around 52% plus of the adult population have been partially vaccinated so far.
- Central Government is purchasing vital critical drugs like Remdesivir from pharma makers. It is also trying to build and grow a strong 30-day buffer inventory to meet emergency contingencies.
- Several State Governments have improved oxygen supplies at the village level too. While Kerala is well on its way to doubling the capacity of its liquid oxygen to 300 tonnes a day. Uttar Pradesh is already adding 542 new oxygen generation plants, and Rajasthan has likewise placed orders for procuring 34,000 oxygen concentrators.
Finally, it all boils down to people’s attitudes. It is the duty and responsibility of every Indian to protect oneself, and make sure not to spread the virus to others. This will help prevent the virus from mutating and creating more virulent variants.
Medical experts also recommend that the Government should resort to mild lockdown with night curfews, restrictions on crowding, and so on, to substantially control and reduce the peak value of the virus. All of these thankfully, many State Governments have already implemented.
COVID-19 waves are difficult to understand and predict. Future COVID pandemics in India are most likely to experience dramatic surges in certain states like what was witnessed recently in Kerala.
Also, many experts from all over the world believe it is not possible to predict the number of waves for the simple reason that enough scientific evidence is not available. They feel that the human race will have to learn to live with the virus for a long time to come. The virus may run out of steam or out of its evolutionary options, but eventually may settle down to become an endemic pathogen, or as the scientists are wont to say, a seasonal disease like the common cold.
If you or someone you know experiences COVID-like symptoms, consult a doctor online. They can give you a quick and accurate diagnosis.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay responsible!