India reported a little more than 25 thousand COVID-19 cases on Monday morning, with the active case tally dropping to its lowest in 155 days. But even as the lightening caseload brings relief, officials continue to warn about an impending third wave of the pandemic. While most agree that this will not reach the severity of the wave witnessed earlier this year, opinions remain varied about its timing and intensity.
In its recent report to the Prime Minister's Office, the National Institute of Disaster Management, had warned of a third wave peak in October. While there is no evidence to suggest this upcoming wave will affect children more than adults, the reports says that there is "a cause for worry if not panic". Children may not be affected more than adults, but they remain among the most vulnerable groups with no vaccinations being available and inadequate infrastructural facilities.
While India recently approved a COVID-19 vaccine (ZyCoV-D) that can be used by all above the age of 12, this will only become available from mid-September. As the report explains, "existing pediatric health care facilities are not robust enough to treat children on a large scale".
Administrative decisions including reopening of schools and relaxation of COVID-19 norms has also prompted concern. "The vaccination is hailed as the only light at the end of this very dark tunnel but the recent cases of COVID-19 among vaccinated people (breakthrough cases) are an alarm that vaccines are not enough," the report added, flagging the need for following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour alongside improving medical infrastructure.
"This requires immediate attention for when the country witnesses a third wave: public medical infrastructures are weak with severe shortages in qualified medical staff especially for children, then there is a huge gap between rural and urban India. The vaccine rollout (deemed as the only way out of this pandemic) has also been slow as compared to other countries," the report adds.
In the meantime, IIT Kanpur Senior Scientist, Professor Manindra Aggarwal has claimed that the possibility of a third wave of corona infection is now negligible. Releasing his new study based on his mathematical 'model formula', he has said that vaccination has further reduced this risk. Prof Agarwal claimed that by October, the number of cases in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh will reach unit digit.
"The vaccination has ensured the reduction in the infection to a great extent. He said that states like UP, Bihar, Delhi are on the way to become almost infection free. However, the active cases in the country will remain close to 15,000 till the month of October as there will be infection in the Northeastern states and also Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala," he told reporters.
(With inputs from agencies)
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