Third Wave of Covid-19 Delta Plus in India Within 12 to 16 Weeks: Experts

India is already working on the reopening phase after a second wave of Covid-19 devastated the country in April and May. Meanwhile, experts warn that a third wave of Covid-19 Delta Plus variants could strike in the next few months. Some experts have warned that a third wave of coronavirus infection could hit within 12-16 weeks, and others are worried that new variants, including the much-talked about Delta Plus, could evade existing vaccines. The Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 is related to the Delta, an existing variant of concern first identified in India last year that was responsible for the deadly second wave. However, courts have questioned state governments over their preparedness. Will vaccine coverage and past infections help? The outcome of the third wave of Covid-19 also depends on what level of immunity India’s population has, both from prior infections and from vaccines. The country averaged 3.25 million doses every day between 9 and 22 June. But the country needs to reach 8.5-9 million doses daily to meet its target of vaccinating the eligible population by the end of 2021. Just over 4% of Indians are fully vaccinated and about 18% have received one dose of Covid-19 so far. Dr Lahariya says if the speed does not pick up, millions will still be vulnerable, although immunity from past Covid infections can protect people. Epidemiologist Dr Lalit Kant says the threat of new Covid variants derailing progress will exist as long as the virus keeps spreading. “We need to further scale up our sequencing efforts to identify dangerous variants early and apply containment measures,” he adds. India had sequenced 30,000 samples until June, but experts believe more needs to be done. Dr A Fathahudeen, who has treated thousands of Covid patients, says current vaccines appear to work on known variants, but there is no guarantee that they will work on new variants. There have also been instances of people becoming ill despite having been vaccinated – especially after getting the first dose.
He believes that another wave is inevitable but “we can delay and contain it with appropriate measures like sequencing – to keep an eye on mutations – and strictly enforcing safety protocols”. “If we don’t do all this, then the third wave could sneak up on us faster than we can imagine.”

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