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Is India ready for the third wave of Covid-19?

In 2020 coronavirus hit our lives , with no vaccine or treatment that can prevent it, containing its spread was vital. We are unaware of how long this virus is going to stay with us. Covid-19 has continued persistently for the last one-and-a-half years. In every part of the world, there have been periods of surge/rise in infection and then fall.

In India so far, there have been two very distinct periods of a surge, separated by a prolonged lull, for which no one was prepared. The total number of infections and mortalities is very high in numbers. The second wave isn’t subsided yet, lockdown is pulled off. People are back on the roads again. A major reason for the worry is, there is no control over the people’s behavior post lockdown, whereas researchers have already raised the alarm for the third wave.

COVID-19 Variants

Multiple different strains of COVID-19 are circulating in the world, the WHO has named them to make it easier to understand. When a virus replicates, it sometimes changes a little, which is normal, and these changes are called “mutations”. A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus.

Under the changes, the four most concerning variants take on the first four letters of the Greek alphabet — Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. The Delta variant was primarily first found in India. It’s one of three sub-lineages of the variant and is also known as B.1.617.2.

Delta Variant

As classified by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant is the reason for concern, because it’s believed to show:

  • Increased transmissibility or detrimental change in epidemiology
  • Increased virulence or change in disease presentation
  • Decreased effectiveness of prevention and control measures

It was first detected in India in October last year and is considered highly contagious. UK authorities predicted it to be 40 % more transmissible than an earlier variant, that’s the reason lockdown was imposed in Britain at the start of this year.

Are symptoms of the Delta variant different than earlier?

Delta Variant is more dominant across the UK. Researchers said that virus is acting differently now, meaning people might think they have “some sort of seasonal cold” instead of COVID-19.

The symptoms of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic have been a loss of smell or taste, persistent cough, and a fever, but as per data collected and research, it shows these are less common now. A headache, sore throat, and runny nose, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, and pressure, discoloration of fingers & toes, loss of speech and movement are now thought to be symptoms of the virus, although fever is still common.

As per the recent reports, the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has mutated further to form the ‘Delta plus’ or ‘AY.1′ variant but there is no immediate cause for concern in India. Delta variant is one of the drivers of the second wave of COVID in India.

Delta plus cases in India and around the world are much less than today. Researchers are studying further on this variant and finding out the possibilities of spreading this new variant and its impact on health.

Though Delta plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibodies cocktail treatment for COVID-19 which is recently authorized in India. But there is no indication of the severity of the disease due to the new variant.

While getting ramp up for the third wave, we are not sure about the behavior of this new variant and its impact. The virus can mutate in ways that make it escape the immune responses developed in the already infected people, or those already vaccinated. The scientist said the blood plasma from many fully vaccinated individuals will have to be tested against this variant to determine whether it shows any significant immune escape.

Delta variant vaccine efficacy

A new study indicates that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant. Covishield produced by the Serum Institute of India is approved by the Drugs Controller General of India and the WHO. AstraZeneca (Covishield) announced it is 76 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease after successful completion of both doses. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is in a phase 3 trial, and data will be published soon.

 To prevent infection, do the following ;

  1. Get vaccinated, educate people around you to take a vaccine.
  2. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  3. Keep distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
  4. Avoid touching your face, eyes.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  6. If you are feeling unwell or having any Covid19 symptoms, consult a physician and isolate yourself from other family members.
  7. Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
  8. Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
  9. Consume natural immunity boosters in your meals, eat healthy food.
  10. Pleasure trips, social events, family functions, vacations can wait but life cannot.
  11. Take the best care of kids and elders at home. Physical and mental health is important.

In India, we are heading towards the rainy season, climate change affects majorly on the body. Drinking water and eating habits play a crucial role in keeping you healthy. Children are likely to get any kind of infection during this period. So it is very important to keep them safe.

It is expected that fresh waves would be weaker than the previous one. That is because when the virus emerges, chances are high that it will impact more, considering that the entire population is susceptible. During its subsequent runs, there would be a smaller number of susceptible people because by then some of them would have gained immunity. An unpredicted surge in infections in India during the second wave surprised the researchers about the mutation pattern of the virus. With the lessons learned very painfully, there are now suggestions that the third wave might be even stronger or may not be. But the best we can do is to get prepared well, medically, mentally, and financially to face it.

Stay Home, Stay Strong, Stay Safe!

Note: Some data facts are taken from the verified sources and links.

 

Article By: Radhika Kashikar

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