Even as daily Covid-19 cases in India are declining, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Chief Dr Randeep Guleria has said that a third wave is inevitable. He added that the third wave can hit the country in the next six to eight weeks. While addressing the media, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, explained the causes of new pandemic waves.
What causes new pandemic waves
Dr. Paul said that there are four elements leading to the formation of a new wave.
1) Behaviour of the virus: The virus has the capacity and ability to spread
2) Susceptible host: Virus keeps looking for susceptible hosts for it to survive. So, if we are not protected either via vaccination or by previous infection, then we are a susceptible host.
3) Transmissibility: The virus can become smart enough where it mutates and becomes more transmissible. The same virus which used to infect three hosts becomes capable of infecting 13! This factor is unpredictable. No one can pre-plan to fight such mutations. The change of the very nature of the virus and its transmissibility is an X factor and no one can predict when and where it may happen.
4) Opportunity: ‘Opportunities’, which we give to the virus to infect. If we sit and eat together, crowd, sit in closed areas without masks, then the virus gets more opportunities to spread.
A call to do what is in our hands
The NITI Aayog Member reminds us what is in our hands. “Out of the above four, two elements– Susceptibility and Opportunities for infection are totally under our control whereas the other two – Behaviour of the virus and Transmissibility, cannot be predicted or controlled. So, if we are protected and ensure we are not susceptible, then the virus will not be able to survive. We can control the susceptibility by wearing a mask or getting vaccinated. Hence if we decrease opportunities by following COVID Appropriate behaviour and decrease susceptibility to infection, then a third wave will not occur.”
Dr. Paul also called for collective efforts of the citizens as well as the system in order to stop another wave. “Some of these require individual efforts, while some others such as isolation of clusters, contact tracing, ensuring testing capacity and building awareness require the system to act.”
Covid third wave can be prevented
While addressing the media, Dr Paul reiterated that our behaviour should be such that the virus must fail in making a susceptible host out of us. “There are countries where even the second wave has not occurred. If we do what is required and do not indulge in irresponsible behaviour, then an outbreak should not occur. This is a simple epidemiological principle.” Dr VK Paul said, explaining the reasons behind the emergence of new pandemic waves and how it can be controlled or even avoided by following COVID appropriate behaviours and taking measures such as vaccination.