Coronavirus: Delta variants could make 'third wave' more severe
India on Friday reported over 51,000 new COVID-19 cases. The weekly positivity rate of infections has now declined to 3%. India's brutal second wave of COVID-19 is receding, however, as major urban centers return to normalcy, experts warn a third wave could hit India sooner. With the emergence of newer Delta and Delta Plus variants, this third wave could be even more severe.
India's tally crosses 3.01 crore; over 3.93 lakh dead
According to the Union Health Ministry, till Friday morning, India reported a total of 3,01,34,445 COVID-19 cases. The death toll has reached 3,93,310. So far, 2,91,28,267 patients have recovered, while 6,12,868 cases involve active infections. In the past 24 hours alone, India recorded 51,667 new infections, 64,527 more discharges, and 1,329 fresh fatalities. 30,79,48,744 vaccine doses have been administered so far.
71.7% new cases concentrated in 5 states
Maharashtra reported 9,844 new COVID-19 cases along with 9,371 more recoveries. Karnataka, the second worst-hit state after Maharashtra, reported 3,979 new cases and 9,768 discharges. Meanwhile, the third worst-hit Kerala added 12,078 new cases and 11,469 recoveries. Tamil Nadu, the fourth worst-hit state, reported 6,162 new cases and 9,046 recoveries. Andhra Pradesh reported 4,981 new cases and 6,464 recoveries.
5-10% patients would be fully vaccinated in third wave
Worryingly, COVID-19 could turn more severe in an imminent third wave due to the Delta and Delta Plus variants of the virus, experts warned. They said that 5-10% of "third-wave patients" would be fully vaccinated by then. However, the third wave could be shorter than the previous two waves and it is expected to strike between September and October.
Will vaccines be effective against variants?
Experts also fear that the new mutations could give the virus the ability of "immune escape," i.e., any immunity against SARS-CoV-2 (acquired through infections or vaccinations) may not protect against new variants. Other studies state that vaccines do remain effective against newer variants, albeit their efficacy is reduced. Efforts are on to develop a "universal vaccine" that will offer protection against multiple variants.
Some 'Delta Plus' patients recover without vaccination
Notably, in Madhya Pradesh, seven 'Delta Plus' cases have been reported. The two patients who died had not been vaccinated. Three patients had received single or both doses of the vaccine and have either recovered or are recovering. Two others defeated the infection without vaccination.
Sputnik V safest among COVID-19 vaccines: Argentinian study
Meanwhile, a study conducted by the Buenos Aires Ministry of Health in Argentina said that the Russian vaccine Sputnik V is the safest among all other vaccines. No deaths were linked to the vaccine, and most post-vaccination events were mild, it said. The side-effects included fever, headaches, and pain at the injection site. Sputnik V is the third vaccine approved for use in India.