India could record 1 lakh daily cases in Aug, warns senior ICMR scientist

The report is based on mathematical modelling done by ICMR and the Imperial College London

COVID-19
Experts say Indians are still vulnerable

India could report almost 1 lakh cases every day in August in what could be the third COVID wave in the country, according to a senior Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientist.

This comes in the wake of WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s statement that the world is in the “early stages” of a third wave amid the surge of the Delta variant, which first originated in India. The Indian Medical Association too said a third wave is imminent in India.

“Given the current situation, if the virus doesn’t mutate to lead to more transmissibility, the situation could be similar to the first wave,” Professor Samiran Panda, who heads the division of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the ICMR, told India Today TV.

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Panda, however, warned that if the virus mutates further, then “the situation in India could be dangerous”.

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The report is based on mathematical modelling done by the ICMR and the Imperial College London.

“Low vaccination rates and easing curbs could lead to a possible surge in cases, which may not be as severe as the second wave. But if we don’t speed up the vaccinations drive and at the same time, if we throw open everything, a third wave could be dangerous,” Panda said as per the India Today TV report.

Panda also said the sudden rise in tourists to hill stations and elsewhere could lead to a spike in cases.

“Such travel should be avoided,” cautioned Panda.

Panda said lifting restrictions should be based on test positivity ratio, not just randomly, stressing that ramping up vaccinations would reduce the severity of the situation.

Next three months critical

Earlier, Niti Aayog (health) member Dr VK Paul said “the world is moving towards a third wave and this is a fact”.

Dr Paul said the coming three months are “very critical” for India in its fight against the pandemic. “We can see new outbreaks of the viral infection but we need to stop it now. This is possible if we follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to stay in the safe zone,” he said on July 16.

The Niti Ayog member said that Indians are still vulnerable. Dr Paul said, “We have not reached herd immunity — not even through infection; Not that we want to achieve herd immunity through natural infection. We are making continuous progress in vaccination. At least 50 per cent of our vulnerable population is vaccinated. So we are still vulnerable. But the situation as of now is under control and we will have to maintain this situation.”

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When a majority of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection — or herd immunity — to those who are not immune to the disease.

The situation is worsening in most parts of the world. “Leaving North and South American regions of WHO, all other WHO regions are moving from good to bad and bad to worse. The world is moving towards a third wave and this is a fact. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too has asked us to take this as a red flag… the PM has given us the target to stall the third wave and it is possible,” Dr Paul added.

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