With fresh COVID19 cases steadily ebbing, experts have warned that the worst could hit in a few months as Third Wave if right and adequate precautions are not exercised, mass vaccination on the top of the list.
While the timing of the Third Wave is uncertain as per the experts, there is a consensus that it may be larger in magnitude than the current second wave.
Noted pulmonologist, physician and researcher Prof Parvaiz Koul said that the “strongest defence against the possible third wave” was vaccination. He said that experience from other countries amply proved that those with high vaccination rates have been able to open up. He said that the USA was a case in point and data from this country showed that cases dropped as vaccination increased.
He however expressed concern over the possibility of new variants.
“Let us pray that new variants that escape vaccine immunity don't emerge. Otherwise it shall be a vicious circle and no country can escape. And then India is a continent of sorts, not a country,” he said. Prof Koul said that people need to continue preventive measures and vaccinate everyone who can.
Prof Tanvir Masood, head department of medicine at GMC Srinagar, while expressing reservation about vaccination reducing the number of cases, said that in the USA, the third wave was much more massive than the second wave despite vaccination. “In the second wave the average daily cases were 60,000 which crossed 2,40,000 in the third wave. He however said that vaccines may reduce the incidences of hospitalization due to the virus. Prof Masood said that in the USA, out of 101 million vaccinated people, 10,262 developed breakthrough COVID19 infection. Of these, he said, 995 were hospitalized and 160 died. “Vaccines have saved many lives, clearly,” he said.
Dr Muzaffar Maqbool, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at GMC Srinagar said a latest study had shown that Covishield vaccine, that is being administered across age groups in J&K currently, was protective against both Indian and UK variants of SARS-CoV2. “There is more than 60 percent efficacy against these variants after two weeks of second dose, so vaccinate,” he said.
However, in the Kashmir division, many doctors have expressed apprehension over the sporadic supply glitches that they feel have slowed the drive down in May. “Vaccination in the 45 plus age group is also incomplete and as low as 33 percent in Kupwara. In Srinagar, the largest district population-wise, only 43 percent are vaccinated in this group,” said a senior medico working in a GMC-associated hospital. He said in the 18-44 year group, less than a lakh people had been vaccinated in the entire Kashmir division. “Very soon, these special drives will dry up again and we will have a very precarious situation,” he said.
Many other doctors in Kashmir have demanded that the vaccination of these groups be fastened. “That is the most important preparation to numb the third wave,” Prof Koul said.