WHO's Covid-19 Third Wave Warning Triggers Concern, Top Health Expert Says Next 100 Days Will Be Crucial

WHO's Covid-19 Third Wave Warning Triggers Concern, Top Health Expert Says Next 100 Days Will Be CrucialIndia’s Top Health Policy Maker Dr V K Paul (Pic via Medical Dialogues)
Snapshot
  • During the press briefing of the Union health ministry, Paul said that apart from North and South America, several regions around the world are moving from “good to bad and bad to worse” in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, cautioned that the world was now in the “early stages” of the third wave of Covid-19 amid the surge of the Delta coronavirus variant, Niti Aayog member (health) VK Paul said on 16 July that the next 100 days will be crucial to understand whether the third wave has arrived in India.

During the press briefing of the Union health ministry, Paul said that apart from North and South America, several regions around the world are moving from “good to bad and bad to worse” in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added that since the world is on the verge of witnessing the third wave, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the officials to take this “as a red flag” and given them a target “to stall the third wave".

These comments came after the UN health agency said this week that the spread of the Delta variant, combined with increased social mobility and inconsistent application of proven public health measures, has resulted in a rise in both case numbers and deaths.

Last week was the fourth week in a row that Covid-19 instances increased globally. Deaths are also on the rise again, following 10 weeks of steady decline.

The WHO chief said: “The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries and we expect it to soon be the dominant Covid-19 strain circulating worldwide if it isn’t already."

According to reports, the number of weekly Covid-19 cases has increased by 64 per cent in Spain, while it has increased by 300 per cent in the Netherlands.

Thailand's condition had been stable for a long time, but it is now reporting a surge. The ministry noted that novel coronavirus instances have increased by 50 per cent in Africa, while Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh are all experiencing an unprecedented increase.

Paul told the press: “Our population is still vulnerable. We have not reached herd immunity — not even through infection; Not that we want to achieve herd immunity through natural infection.”

He said, “We are making continuous progress in vaccination. At least 50 per cent of our vulnerable population is vaccinated. So we are still vulnerable. But the situation as of now is under control and we will have to maintain this situation” and added that the next 100 days will determine whether or not the third wave has arrived in India.

In the case of vaccines, according to the ministry, two doses of Covid-19 vaccinations, regardless of Covishield and Covaxin, were successful in extending 95 per cent protection from death in a large-scale, real-life trial undertaken by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Paul said that the research was carried out at the height of the pandemic's second wave, which was fuelled by the Delta variant. He stated that "if we examine the findings, we see that one dose gave 82 per cent protection from death while two doses gave 95 per cent protection from death due to Covid-19.

This study was done on a high-risk population at a time when the pandemic was at its peak. And we all know that Delta was driving the peak of the second wave".

This finding, according to the healthcare official, indicates that the vaccines are effective against the concerning Delta variant.

Meanwhile, the health ministry joint secretary, Lav Agarwal, said on 16 July that such waves are a retrospective assessment of how the situation is being managed.

According to him, the number of waves is less essential than the intensity of the waves, “so it does not matter whether it is the third wave or the fourth wave, as this is the natural interaction between virus and human being”.

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