Third wave of COVID-19 may hit its peak between October-November: Govt panel scientist

In the view of the possible third wave of COVID-19, a scientist of the government panel in charge of modelling Covid-19 cases on Sunday said that the expected wave may hit its peak in October-November this year if Covid-appropriate behaviour is not followed. However it is likely to see half the number of daily cases that were recorded during the second surge.

But if a new virulent variant of SARS-CoV-2 emerges then cases may explode as the infection will spread faster during the third wave, said scientist Manindra Agrawal.

The panel who he is a part of had come up with the Sutra Model last year to mathematically project the trajectory of Covid-19 in India. They were criticised earlier this year for not having predicted the ferocity of the second wave of the pandemic.

On the panel's predictions for the third wave, Manindra Agrawal said that loss of immunity, effects of vaccination and the possibility of a more virulent variant have been factored in this time, which was not done while modelling the second surge. A detailed report will be published soon.

Agrawal in a series of tweets explained, "We have created three scenarios. One is optimistic, where we assume that life goes back to normal by August and there is no new mutant. Another is intermediate wherein we assume that vaccination is 20 per cent less effective in addition to optimistic scenario assumptions.

"The final one is pessimistic with assumptions different from the intermediate one: a new 25 per cent more infectious mutant spreads in August (it is not Delta plus, which is not more infectious than Delta variant)."

He shared graph that showed that the second wave is likely to slide down by mid-August and a possible third wave could reach its peak between October and November.

Agrawal clarified on the panel's delay of analysing data for the third wave. He said, "It took us a while to do the analysis for three reasons. First, loss of immunity in the recovered population. Second, vaccination induced immunity. Each of these two need to be estimated for the future.

"And third, how to incorporate these two factors in the Sutra model. Fortunately, it turned out that both can be incorporated by suitably changing contact rate and reach parameters... The first two factors required detailed analysis," he tweeted.

India saw a single-day rise of 43,071 COVID-19 infections, which took the tally of cases to 3,05,45,433, while active cases have declined to 4,85,350, according to Union health ministry data updated on Sunday.

The death toll has climbed to 4,02,005 with 955 more fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. The active cases have further declined to 4,85,350 and comprise 1.59 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 97.09 per cent, the ministry said.

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