Third COVID-19 wave could hit in 6-8 months: Expert panel
Experts have both good and bad news to offer. India is expected to see a drastic fall in daily new COVID-19 cases by early July, according to the Indian government-appointed National COVID-19 Supermodel Committee. However, another wave of infections is likely to hit the country in the next six to eight months, the panel, which projects the spread of the pandemic, added.
M Vidyasagar, professor at IIT Hyderabad, who heads the three-member panel, said daily cases in India could fall to an estimated 15,000 by July 1 - some 40 days from today. He said by the end of this month, India will report nearly 1.5 lakh cases per day and by the end of June, that number would further fall to 20,000, according to ThePrint.
The last time India logged nearly 15,000 daily cases was in early March, when the second wave of the coronavirus was starting to take hold in the country. In the following few months, India was devastated by an unprecedented surge in infections and coronavirus-linked deaths. Daily cases in India's second wave had peaked at a whopping 4,14,000 just a few weeks ago.
Now, Vidyasagar has also warned that a third wave of the pandemic could hit India after six to eight months. For that estimate, the panel used a research conducted in Italy, which showed that antibodies developed from COVID-19 infection lasted six to eight months in Italian patients. The panel assumed the same result in Indian patients for drawing the estimate.
"This (Italian study) was a small study with just 162 patients, but it is indicative," Vidyasagar told ThePrint. "So we can expect that the current group of Indians who have been exposed to COVID will retain their immunities until between November and January," he added.
Offering a little hope, the expert said a possible third wave may not have the same dreadful impact as the second wave, if the pace of vaccinations is considerably ramped up. "If we can vaccinate at least half of the adult population with at least one dose (60 crore doses), it would reduce the peak somewhat," Vidyasagar suggested.
India's inoculation drive has lost track over the past few weeks due to the massive surge in infections in the second wave and shortage of vaccines in several states. India has administered nearly 19 crore vaccine doses so far, but only 3% of its population of 1.4 billion has been fully vaccinated. India currently has three approved vaccines - COVAXIN, Covishield, and Sputnik V.