Third COVID-19 wave 'inevitable' but not clear when it will occur, warns government's scientific advisor

With emergence of the second wave of COVID-19 in India, government's top scientific adviser has said that a third wave of the coronavirus is "inevitable" in India. He warned that vaccines will need to be "updated" to deal with the new strains that have sped up the contagion in India, creating panic in hospitals and killing thousands.

"Phase 3 (third wave) is inevitable, given the high levels at which this virus is circulating. But it is not clear at what time scale this Phase 3 will occur. Hopefully, incrementally, but we should prepare for new waves. Ongoing surveillance is needed as are vaccine upgrades," Dr K VijayRaghavan said at a government briefing.

With the current second wave of COVID-19, India accounted for nearly half the cases reported last week, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, as COVID-19 deaths in the country rose by a record 3,780 during the past 24 hours. As per the weekly report, India accounted for 46 percent of global cases and a quarter of global deaths.

On variants of the coronavirus, he said, "Variants are transmitted same as original strain. It doesn't have the properties of new kinds of transmission. It infects humans in a manner that makes it more transmissible as it gains entry, makes more copies, and goes on, same as the original."

Given the rise, many hospitals are struggling for beds and oxygen as they desperately battle a second deadly surge in infections, while morgues and crematoriums struggle to deal with a unstoppable flow of bodies.

Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen. and treatment.

As per medical experts, India's actual figures could be five to 10 times the official tallies. The country has added one crore cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach its first crore.

Despite surge in cases, the government is reluctant to impose lockdown for fear of the economic losses, although several states have adopted social curbs.

Besides, India's surge in infections has coincided with a drop in vaccinations because of supply and delivery problems.

At least three states, including Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai, have reported a scarcity of vaccines, shutting down some inoculation centres in the city.

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