India may see a third wave of COVID-19 peaking between October and November if a more virulent mutant than the existing ones emerge by September, but its intensity is expected to be much lower than the second wave, a scientist involved in the mathematical modelling of the pandemic said on Monday.
Manindra Agrawal, an IIT-Kanpur scientist who is part of the three-member team of experts that have been tasked with predicting any surge in infections, said if no new virulent emerges, then the situation is unlikely to change.
If the third wave peaks, the country may see only 1 lakh daily cases as against more than 4 lakh when the deadly second wave was at its peak in May. The second wave killed thousands and infected several lakh. "Status Quo is when no new mutant comes and New Variant is when 50% more infectious mutant comes by September. As one can see, the only scenario with some semblance of third wave is New Variant one for epsilon = 1/33. In this scenario, new cases rise to ~1 lakh per day," Agrawal tweeted.
Last month, the model suggested that the third wave could peak between October and November and the daily cases could shoot between 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh every day if a more virulent mutant of SARS-CoV2 drive fresh infections. However, no mutant that was more infectious than the Delta, which drove the infections during the third wave, emerged.
Last week's forecast was the same, but only the range of daily cases has been brought down to 1-1.5 lakh in the latest one. With the fresh data, the daily infections are further expected to drop in the range of a lakh.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Agrawal said the fresh data comprising the vaccinations that have taken place in July and August, the sero-surveys that gave insights about the anti-bodies were factored in while assuming the scenarios.
According to a study by the researchers of Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the R or the Reproductive value of the coronavirus pandemic was 0.89. It is necessary that the R-value is under one that can help arrest the spread of infection.Vaccination has been the biggest weapon worldwide to combat coronavirus and more than 63 crore doses have been administered in the country, according to the CoWIN dashboard.