Third Wave of Corona in India: With the festive season on in full swing, experts have cautioned against complacency as they believe the ‘lower number of cases does not necessarily mean the pandemic is now endemic’.  Speaking to a news agency, virologist Shahid Jameel asserted that vaccination rates have improved significantly but more needs to be done.Also Read - COVID Third Wave Risk Persists Even As India Achieves 50% Vaccination Target: IMF’s Gita Gopinath

His statement comes a day after India reached a milestone of 100 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses. According to Co-WIN portal data, over 71 crore vaccine doses were administered as the first dose and over 29 crore as the second dose. More than 75 per cent of India’s adult population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and more than 31 per cent of the country’s around 93 crore adults have got both doses.

“I am not sure we are in the endemic state yet as we celebrate this (100 crore) landmark, there is still some distance to go. We are going towards endemicity, but are not there yet”, news agency PTI quoted Jameel as saying.

The virologist also pointed out that the mortality rate in the country remains steady at about 1.2 per cent. “This tells me that the vaccine coverage in India still needs to increase”, he added.

COVID-19 Cases to Remain Low

Furthermore, experts claimed that India will continue to experience local increases in Covid cases even though it is unlikely to see another overwhelming surge in infections like it did during the second wave when the country’s healthcare system was overwhelmed and thousands died.

Murad Banaji, senior lecturer in mathematics at UK’s Middlesex University who has been closely tracking India’s Covid graph and has done several model studies said there have been a large number of recent infections, and vaccination has been proceeding at a reasonable pace. “These both reduce the likelihood of a major new wave in the next few months”, he explained.

New Variants Pose Challenge

New variants could potentially still pose a challenge. “Any new variant which spreads much more easily, especially amongst people who are vaccinated or have been previously infected, could lead to new surges”, said experts.

However, the country will not see a wave on the scale of April-June 2021 ever again, although there could be some increase in transmission during festival season, added experts.

“A large third wave is unlikely unless a new variant emerges that evades existing immunity and spreads faster but small localised increases after the Diwali can be expected just as there was in West Bengal after Durga Puja”, said Jameel.

COVID-19 on Rise in West Bengal

Meanwhile, several states witnessing surge in COVID-19 cases post Dussehra, Durga Puja. Earlier on Friday, West Bengal’s COVID-19 cases surged for the third day on trot with 846 more people testing positive for the disease.

Union Health Ministry, earlier this month, had also appealed to people to be cautious for the months of October, November and December in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need to be watchful for the months of October, November and December,” said Joint Secretary of Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal.

Furthermore, he had emphasised that the festivities should be attended virtually and pointed out that COVID-19 appropriate behaviour should be followed while meeting family and friends.