COVID-19 third wave may hit its peak in October, likely to witness half the cases recorded during second surge: Govt panel

New Delhi: Amid concerns over the third wave of coronavirus hitting India, a scientist of a government panel tasked with modelling COVID-19 cases has said that the possible wave can reach its peak between October and November. He stated that it can take place if COVID-appropriate behaviour is not followed, but may see half the daily cases recorded during the second surge.

Manindra Agarwal, who is working with the Sutra Model — the mathematical projection of the trajectory of COVID-19, said that the coronavirus infection can spread faster during the third wave if ‘any new virulent variant’ of SARS-CoV-2 emerges.

Agarwal added that the loss of immunity, effects of vaccination and the possibility of a more virulent variant have been factored in this time, which was not done while modelling the second wave.

“We have created three scenarios. One is optimistic, where we assume that life goes back to normal by August and there is no new mutant. Another is intermediate wherein we assume that vaccination is 20 per cent less effective in addition to optimistic scenario assumptions. The final one is pessimistic with assumptions different from the intermediate one: a new 25 per cent more infectious mutant spreads in August (it is not Delta plus, which is not more infectious than Delta variant),” Agarwal said.

Over 1.5 lakh daily cases during third COVID-19 wave 

Manindra Agarwal stated that the third wave of coronavirus could see daily COVID-19 cases rise up between 1,50,000 and 2,00,000 in India. The figure, however, is less than half of what was recorded when the second wave had hit its peak in May that had led to the flooding of hospitals with patients and had claimed over thousands of lives daily.

“If a new mutant emerges, the third wave could spread rapidly, but it will be half of what the second wave was. Delta variant is infecting people who contracted a different variant earlier. So this has been taken into consideration,” the scientist said.

He also said that as vaccination progresses, the possibility of a third or fourth wave will be less.

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Less hospitalisation during third wave of COVID-19 

M Vidyasagar, another member of the panel member, said that the number of people getting hospitalised is expected to be less during the third wave of COVID-19. He cited the example of the United Kingdom where in January witnessed more than 60,000 cases with daily deaths touching 1,200. However, during the fourth wave, the number dropped to 21,000 cases and just 14 deaths.

“Vaccination played a major role in bringing down the cases that needed hospitalisation in the UK. This has been factored in while coming out with the three scenarios,” Vidyasagar said.

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This is to be noted that the panel was formed by the Department of Science and Technology in 2020 to forecast the surge of COVID-19 cases using mathematical models. Besides Agarwal, an IIT-Kanpur scientist and Vidyasagar, an IIT-Hyderabad scientist, the panel also has Lt Gen Madhuri Kanitkar, Deputy Chief (Medical) of Integrated Defence Staff.

(With inputs from PTI news agency)

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