The brutal second COVID-19 wave in India has barely receded and there's already talk about the third. Dr. VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog on Wednesday explained the reasons behind the emergence of new waves and how it can be controlled or even avoided.
Why do new waves happen?
Dr. VK Paul said that there are four elements leading to the formation of a new wave.
1. Behaviour of the virus: The virus has the capacity and ability to spread.
2. Susceptible host: Virus keeps looking for susceptible hosts for it to survive. So, if we are not protected either via vaccination or by previous infection, then we are a susceptible host.
3. Transmissibility: The virus can become smart enough where it mutates and becomes more transmissible. The same virus which used to infect three hosts becomes capable of infecting 13! This factor is unpredictable. No one can pre-plan to fight such mutations. The change of the very nature of the virus and its transmissibility is an X factor and no one can predict when and where it may happen.
4. Opportunity: 'Opportunities', which we give to the virus to infect. If we sit and eat together, crowd, sit in closed areas without masks, then the virus gets more opportunities to spread.
How it can be controlled?
Dr. VK Paul said to control the infection in our hands. "Out of the above four, two elements--Susceptibility and Opportunities for infection are totally under our control whereas the other two--Behaviour of the virus and Transmissibility, cannot be predicted or controlled. So, if we are protected and ensure we are not susceptible, then the virus will not be able to survive. We can control the susceptibility by wearing a mask or getting vaccinated. Hence, if we decrease opportunities by following COVID appropriate behaviour and decrease susceptibility to infection, then a third wave will not occur.”
Dr. Paul also called for collective efforts of the citizens as well as the system in order to stop another wave. "Some of these require individual efforts, while some others such as isolation of clusters, contact tracing, ensuring testing capacity and building awareness require the system to act."