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Some Scientists Fear A Third Wave of COVID 19, Next Winter

For months their citizens have been free to socialize, go to theatres and attend packed festivals, rock concerts and nightclubs – often without a mask in sight. And it could be like this in Britain, say those who back Zero Covid. In this scenario, society would be opened up only when new Covid cases were vanishingly low and almost every person in the country had been vaccinated. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General Shekhar C Mande has warned the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. They warn that hopes of somehow keeping a highly infectious virus circulating at a low level are misplaced and any attempt to do so is likely to end in a third wave of COVID 19, horrific wave.

People should continue wearing masks, maintaining hand hygiene and observing social distancing to avoid getting infected as India is nowhere near achieving herd immunity. Pandemic can potentially end because of herd immunity, which is achieved through natural infections, or the protection offered by vaccinations. In India, access to medical facilities is a serious constraint for average citizens, and the country has some of the highest out-of-pocket per capita expenditure on healthcare in the world. This makes even treatable and manageable diseases fatal for even the young among those living on the margins, effectively reducing the “density of comorbidities” and thus, the size of the population living with diseases that exacerbate Covid-19.

Last week, Boris Johnson poured cold water on such assertions, dismissing Zero Covid as ‘not credible’. But Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health and an adviser to the Scottish government, insists it is a possibility and one we should seriously consider. Earlier this month, Prof Sridhar wrote online that the third wave of COVID 19 could end up ‘more like measles than flu – eliminated largely in rich countries with continual flare-ups requiring outbreak response’.

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