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‘Should be on guard against new variants’
The onset of the anticipated third wave of the pandemic would be clear only when those vaccinated and those who were already infected and cured are re-infected, said reputed virologist Dr T Jacob John.
Asked when the next wave of COVID could hit the nation, he said, “It is hard to guess right now. A sizeable number have already been infected and nearly 20 per cent of the population have been vaccinated, which could slow down the third wave.”
Pointing out that there was a 10-week window in January – March after the first wave subsided and before the second wave made its presence felt, Dr John said: “We will have to be on the lookout for any new variants of the Delta variant which could mutate and affect those vaccinated and those affected earlier and cured.”
“The first wave affected nearly 30 per cent of the population and the second wave another sizeable number. With many vaccinated and a sizeable number would have developed antibodies after being infected and cured, the severity of the next wave could be less, unless it happens to be a highly virulent, newly mutated strain,” said the virologist, adding, “The Alpha, Beta and Delta variants were right under our noses, but we failed to recognise them.”
“With the second wave in remission, we will have to wait and see when and how it will plateau” he added.
However, masking, social distancing and frequent hand washing have to be followed rigorously if deaths in the anticipated third wave are to be kept low, he cautioned.