What does the surge in COVID 19 cases mean for India? Experts opine

Updated on Sep 01, 2021 10:22 PM IST  |  115.7K
   
covid cases rise in several States
Spike in Covid 19 cases across several States
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Just when we thought the fury of COVID-19 is almost over and that we are recovering from the wrath of the second wave, a recent spike in cases across Maharashtra and Kerala seems like a clarion call to not underestimate the virus yet. With so many vaccines in place and the newer ones in the pipeline, the new variants of the virus continue to throw spanners in the works.

What makes the situation even worse is the people’s attitude towards the virus. While some believe Coronavirus is gone, others think that they have already become immune to the virus. All this coupled with the gradual reopening of businesses, malls and even educational institutes, it seems bidding adieu to COVID-19 still seems to be a distant dream.

“The recent surge in cases is nothing but a reality check of how seriously we are following the COVID appropriate behavior. It’s a no-brainer that the virus will stay here for at least another year to come, if not more. We have been insisting on the need to follow all the precautions since when the pandemic started,” says Dr. Praveen Khilnani, Director Pediatric Critical Care and Emergency Services Senior Consultant, Pulmonology, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital.

He adds that it is possible that this is an alarm for a third wave in Maharashtra. “In Maharashtra, the peak of the first wave was on September 14, 2020. There were 23,000 new cases. The second peak was on April 25, 2021 with 66,000 new cases. On September 1, 2021, there are 4196 with 104 deaths,” Khilnani tells you.

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However, experts believe it is too early to say whether or not it is signaling the arrival of a possible third wave. “It might be possible that we are already heading towards it or maybe not,” Dr. Sharwari Dabhade, MD, Physician, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital.

The fact of the matter is if this will be the case, a third wave will arrive sooner than we expected. Several models predicted that the third wave will hit the country in August and can peak in September. Now, the models suggest it could peak between October and November. “States, therefore, have to stay on high alert. Even a slight increase in cases has to be taken seriously, if not, the wrath of the second wave will be inevitable,” adds Khilnani.

The reason behind predicting the peak, he says, can be that November-December is the season of respiratory illness. “This means, people are more prone to getting infected with influenza. And since COVID majorly affects one’s lungs, it is obvious that people may catch the infection during this time. That is why you must have heard people asking you to get a flu shot in September,” he explains.

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However, these are all merely predictions. As opposed to witnessing a severe third wave, he says, we may also achieve herd immunity by people getting low grade infection triggering immune response to the virus. “But for that too happen we will have to continue to follow the protocols until we have achieved at least 50% or higher vaccination rate, which is a farfetched target because we, in India, are too low in vaccination rates - only 35% got their first dose, while only 10% are fully vaccinated,” says Khilnani.

Dr Dabhade is of the opinion that the cases may rise in winters because the virus mutates rapidly during the colder seasons. However, she agrees that similar claims were made last year, too, but most of them were wrong. “Since COVID is a very new virus, we may take some time to fully understand the nature of the virus,” she says.

With the reopening of schools and in the absence of a pediatric vaccine, Dr Dabhade believes that the third wave, when and if comes, may hit children largely. “Here, the need for patient education comes into the work. While the Government will be doing its part to lay down proper protocols for the reopening of schools and colleges, it is all the parents’ duty to teach their children about the importance of hand hygiene, mask and social distancing,” she concludes.

Read Also: Symptoms of flu infections that you should not ignore among kids

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