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Third COVID-19 Wave May Not be as Severe as Second Wave: ICMR

However, the researchers also noted that the projections were subject to uncertainties and vaccinations will play a huge role.

A crowded district hospital during COVID-19 vaccination, in Noida Sector 30, Wednesday, June 23, 2021. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reveals the probable third wave of COVID-19 could occur but it may not be as severe as the second wave. 

The study titled ‘Plausibility of the third wave of COVID-19 in India: A mathematical modelling based analysis‘, was published on Friday in the peer-reviewed Indian Journal of Medical Research. “This study demonstrates plausible mechanisms by which a substantial third wave could occur, while also illustrating that it is unlikely for any such resurgence to be as large as the second wave,” the study said. 

However, the researchers also noted that the projections were subject to uncertainties and scaling up vaccinations is the only way to ‘mitigate against any eventuality’. 

“Preparedness planning for any potential future wave will benefit by drawing upon the projected numbers based on the present modelling exercise,” it added. 

READ ALSO: Delta Plus Variant: Delta Plus Variant May Trigger The Third Wave | Explained

In the study, researchers examined four potential mechanisms of the third wave of COVID-19 using a compartmental model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. “In the first mechanism, the possibility of waning immunity was considered that would put previously exposed individuals at risk. Second, the emergence of a new viral variant that is capable of escaping immunity to previously circulating strains. Third, the emergence of a new viral variant that is more transmissible than the previously circulating strains. Fourth, of current lockdowns affording fresh opportunities for transmission,” the study read. 

READ ALSO: Covid Third Wave Expected to Peak Around September-October: IIT Kanpur Study

The result of the study said that the Immune-mediated mechanisms (waning immunity, or viral evolution for immune escape) are unlikely to drive a severe third wave if acting on their own unless such mechanisms lead to a complete loss of protection among those previously exposed. 

“Any third wave seems unlikely to be as severe as the second wave. Rapid scale-up of vaccination efforts could play an important role in mitigating these and future waves of the disease,” it read.

The researchers highlighted that a new, more transmissible variant will also need to have a very high infection rate (R 0 >4.5) to cause the third wave on its own. The R-value refers to the rate at which an infection spreads within the population. 

The ICMR study mentioned that two mechanisms where a severe third wave is possible. First is a new variant that is more transmissible and is also capable of escaping prior immunity and second, when lockdowns are highly effective in limiting transmission and subsequently released. Researchers suggested that rapid scale-up of vaccination efforts could play an important role in mitigating these and future waves of the disease.

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(With inputs from ANI)

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