By June 22, India recorded just approximately 50,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours, the least number in over three months. Plenty of others, on the other hand, are still scared to return to their normal lives. “We started meeting people in March, and the second wave wreaked havoc on the country after that. I’m not yet able to leave the house or allow my children to go outside. We have not yet had the sickness yet, and I’m not willing to take any chances,” says Kartik Nair, a 38-year-old Delhi former banker. Many people, including Nair, are terrified that Covid will return shortly for a third wave.
Regrettably, it is impossible to predict whether or not a third wave will arise. Covid, like other respiratory illnesses, is evolving, and a percentage of the world’s population remains vulnerable, so there’s still a potential the virus could spread and the number of cases will increase sharply again. It’s difficult to say when this may happen; the 1918 Flu Pandemic hit India in 3 phases. In 2009 and 2010, there were just two waves of swine flu. After the first Covid wave, India’s second took around five months to start.
There is no uniformity in the number of waves or the interval between them around the globe—much relies on vaccination status, human behavior, and Covid alterations in the country. Whereas the United States has only seen two waves, Germany and France saw the third phase in April. The UK is still in the initial stages of the latest wave this month, which may or may not be highly damaging. In India, there is a similar sense of hope, which is that even if a third wave happens, it will not be particularly devastating. “If we practice proper behavior, vaccinate enough people, and assure early detection and treatment, a third wave may not look anything like the second. Because Covid isn’t going to go away, a new wave will erupt, but how severe it will be is up to us,” says Professor K. Srinath Reddy, director of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
Many analysts believe that a third wave can also be avoided completely. “If we wear masks appropriately, maintain distance, and get ourselves vaccinated, why should there be a third wave?” argues Dr. V.K. Paul, chairman of the national committee on Covid management. Many glasses of water are being placed on the national immunization program’s success. As per AIIMS Delhi director and prominent pulmonologist Dr. Randeep Guleria, when most individuals develop sufficient protection to Covid-19—either through vaccinations or infection—the virus is becoming indigenous, appearing only periodically like other coronaviruses like influenza and the flu virus. Dr. T. Jacob John, a well-known virologist, feels that the odds of the third wave in India are slim, especially one with such a sharp upward ascent as the second wave. “Delta and Delta Plus are essentially identical, and serological studies show that both variants have spread widely. These differences would have harmed a lot of people without generating any signs. “This, along with adequate immunization, will result in significantly fewer instances for the remainder of the year,” he predicts.
If Covid-19 mutates towards a more communicable or highly controlled variant than the Delta form, India is likely to be able to maintain its numbers down by adequate immunization and Covid cautious behavior.