India should brace for third COVID-19 wave by Oct, say health experts

  • Reuters survey graphic on whether India will experience a third wave of COVID-19:
  • Reuters survey graphic on India’s vaccination campaign:

BENGALURU, June 18 (Reuters) – India is expected to hit a third wave of coronavirus infections by October, and although it can be better controlled than the most recent outbreak, the pandemic will a. Reuters survey of medical experts will remain a public health threat for at least another year.

The rapid poll of 40 health specialists, doctors, scientists, virologists, epidemiologists, and professors from around the world, conducted June 3-17, showed that a significant increase in vaccinations is likely to cover a new outbreak in some way.

Of those who dared to predict, over 85% of those surveyed, or 21 in 24, said the next wave will come in October, including three they predicted back in August and September 12. The remaining three said between November and February.

But over 70% of the experts, or 24 out of 34, said any new outbreak would be better controlled than the current one, which was far more devastating – with a lack of vaccines, drugs, oxygen, and hospital beds – than the smaller first Increase in infections over the past yearr.

“It is better controlled as the cases are going to be much fewer, because more vaccinations would have been introduced and there would have been some level of natural immunity to the second wave,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS).

To date, India has only fully vaccinated about 5% of its estimated 950 million eligible population, leaving many millions at risk of infection and death. Continue reading

While a majority of health experts predicted the vaccination campaign would pick up significantly this year, they warned against lifting restrictions prematurely, as some states have done. Continue reading

When asked whether children and people under the age of 18 would be most at risk in a possible third wave, almost two thirds of the experts or 26 out of 40 said yes.

“The reason for this is that they are a completely virgin population in terms of vaccination as no vaccine is currently available for them,” said Dr. Pradeep Banandur, head of the epidemiology department at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS).

Experts warn that the situation could get serious.

“When children become infected in large numbers and we are not prepared, there is nothing you can do at the last minute,” said Dr. Devi Shetty, Narayana Health cardiologist and advisor to the government of Karnataka state on pandemic response planning.

“It’s going to be a whole different problem because the country has very, very few beds in pediatric intensive care and it’s going to be a disaster.”

But 14 experts said children are not at risk.

Earlier this week, a senior health ministry official said children are vulnerable and prone to infection, but that analysis showed less serious health effects.

While 25 out of 38 respondents said future coronavirus variants would not render existing vaccines ineffective, 30 out of 41 experts said in response to a separate question that the coronavirus will remain a public health threat in India for at least a year.

Eleven experts said the threat would last less than a year, 15 said for less than two years, while 13 said over two years and two said the risks would never go away.

“COVID-19 is a solvable problem as it was obviously easy to get a solvable vaccine. In two years India will likely develop herd immunity through vaccination and exposure to the disease, “said Robert Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland and international scientific advisor to the Global Virus Network.

Reporting by Shrutee Sarkar and Swathi Nair; Survey by Vivek Mishra, Indradip Ghosh, and Mumal Rathore; Editing by Rahul Karunakar, Sanjeev Miglani% Shri Navratnam

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