A Reuters poll of medical experts showed that the third wave of coronavirus infections is likely to hit India by October, and although it will be better controlled than the latest outbreak, the pandemic will remain a public health threat for at least another year.
The snap poll took 40 healthcare specialists, doctors, scientists, virologists, epidemiologists and professors from around the world.
Over 70% of experts said that any new outbreak would be better controlled compared with the current one, which has been far more devastating – with a significant shortage of vaccines, medicines, oxygen and hospital beds.
Over 85% of respondents said the next wave will hit by October, including three who forecast it as early as August and 12 in September. The remaining three said between November and February, Reuters reported.
Dr Randeep Guleria, director at All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said that the third wave would be more controlled, “as cases will be much less because more vaccinations would have been rolled out and there would be some degree of natural immunity from the second-wave.”
When asked if children and those under 18 years would be most at risk in a potential third wave, nearly two-thirds of experts said yes. “The reason being they are a completely virgin population in terms of vaccination because currently there is no vaccine available for them,” said Dr Pradeep Banandur, head of epidemiology department at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS).
The report said that while 25 of 38 respondents said future coronavirus variants would not make existing vaccines ineffective, in response to a separate question, 30 of 41 experts said the coronavirus will remain a public health threat in India for at least a year.
Robert Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland, said: “COVID-19 is a solvable problem, as obviously it was easy to get a solvable vaccine. In two years, India likely will develop herd immunity through vaccine and exposure of the disease.”