Hours after the World Health Organisation announced that the world was already in the early stages of the third wave of Covid-19, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has projected that the third wave is likely to hit India by the end of August.
Dr Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases at ICMR said that the third wave is likely to not be as intense as the second wave. The doctor, however, said that while both Delta and Delta Plus variants had spread across the country, the variants are not expected to cause any further "public health havoc", NDTV reported.
On Thursday, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria also spoke about the third wave of Covid-19 and outlines four factors that could lead to the wave. These include waning immunity, the emergence of a more transmissible coronavirus variant capable of escaping the immunity shield and lockdown relaxations can be the likely causes of a possible third wave of COVID-19.
Speaking at an event, he said the third wave can be mitigated by following Covid-appropriate behaviour such as maintaining social distancing, using masks, and taking vaccine.
He said several studies and modelling have been conducted to project the trajectory of a possible third wave of the pandemic under different scenarios.
"One such model from an IIT shows that if all restrictions are lifted and if a virus (variant) is also able to escape immunity then the next wave can be bigger than the second wave.
"If some restrictions are kept and the virus also remains stable then cases will not be much and if we keep more restrictions then cases will further reduce," he said.
Guleria said even if new variants emerge, the available vaccines can be tweaked.
Guleria said the third wave of COVID-19 is being seen in other countries but hospitalisation has come down, indicating that the vaccines are working.
Listing possible reasons that can precipitate the third wave, Guleria said waning immunity -- which restores previously exposed individuals to a susceptible state -- the emergence of a new more transmissible variant of the virus capable of escaping immunity, and relaxation of current lockdowns can be the likely causes.
He said that apart from Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V, several other vaccines are in the pipeline in the country.
The Delta variant, which was first found in India, has now been found in over 111 countries across the world.
ICMR's predictions come hours after WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the world was already in the "early stages" of the third phase of the pandemic.
It also comes days after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) called pilgrimage and tourism as potential super spreaders for the third wave of Covid 19 and warned states to stop mass gatherings.