The third wave of coronavirus infections could likely peak between October and November if proper COVID behaviour is not followed. Still, half of the daily cases recorded during the second flood could be seen. A scientist told a Government commission tasked with modelling COVID-19 cases.
However, COVID infections may spread more rapidly during the third wave when a new, virulent variant of SARS-CoV-2 emerges, said Manindra Agarwal, who works with the Silk model, a mathematical projection trajectory of COVID. The panel is really set up by the Ministry of Science and Technology last year to use mathematical models to predict an increase in coronavirus cases.
Apart from Agarwal, a scientist at IIT-Kanpur, the panel also includes the M Vidyasagar, another scientist from IIT-Hyderabad. The Lieutenant General Madhuri Kanitkar, deputy chief (medical) of the Integrated Defense Staff, as members. The panel had previously received comments for failing to forecast the severity of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
Regarding the prediction of the third wave, Agarwal said they took the loss of immunity, the effect of vaccination and the possibility of more virulent options into account at this time, which has not taken into the account when modelling the second wave.
He said a full report would be released soon.
“We developed three scenarios. One is optimistic if we assume that life will return to normal in August and there will be no new mutants. Another is the intermediate stage, where we assume that the 20% vaccination is less effective in addition to the assumption of an optimistic scenario.
“The latter is pessimistic with assumptions other than the middle one: the new mutant was 25% more infectious in August (this is not Delta plus, which is not more infectious than the Delta variant).” Mr Agarwal said in a series of tweets.
According to the schedule shared by Mr Agarwal, the second wave is likely to intensify in mid-August, and the third wave could likely peak between the October and in the November.
In a quite pessimistic scenario, the third wave could only see a daily increase in COVID-19 cases between 1,50,000 and 200,000 in the country, the scientist noted.
The number was less than half recorded when the fatal second wave peaked in the first half of May, flooding hospitals with patients and claiming thousands of lives every day. As of May 7, India recorded 4,114,188 cases of COVID-19, the highest during the second wave.
When new mutants appeared, the third wave could spread quickly, but half of the second wave. The delta option infects people who have previously agreed to another option. So this has been taken into account, said Mr. Agarwal.
He said that with vaccinations underway, the chances of a third or fourth wave would be less. In the optimistic scenario, daily cases could range from 50,000 to 1,000,000. In the intermediate scenario, cases could range from 50,000 to 1,000,000, but more than in the optimistic scenario, the scientist noted.
Another panellist, M. Vidyasagar, said hospital stays could be lower during the third wave.
For example, he cites the UK, where more than 60,000 daily deaths were reported in January, reaching 1,200. However, in the fourth wave, the number dropped to 21,000 and only 14 deaths.
“Vaccination does plays an important key role in reducing the number of cases requiring hospitalization in the UK. This is taken into account when developing the three scenarios,” Vidyasagar told PTI.
The government emphasized vaccination as a fear of a third wave. Mr. Agarwal also explained the reason for the delay in publishing the third wave of analysis.
“We need time to analyze three reasons. First, the loss of immunity in the recovered population. Second, immunity through vaccination. Both of these should be evaluated for the future.
“And third, how to incorporate these two factors into the silk model. Fortunately, it turns out that both can be turned on by changing the contact speed and reaching the appropriate parameters. The first two factors require detailed analysis,” he wrote on Twitter.
The degree of contact is how quickly the infection spreads and the parameter to be achieved is the percentage of the population who is active in the pandemic.