The number of COVID-19 cases is seeing a steady decline over the past few weeks. However, experts are of the view that it should not be viewed as the end of the third wave. They also said that all safety protocols must be followed because there is still very much chance of mutation of the coronavirus. According to Prof Anil Kumar Gulati – former head of the microbiology department at Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University – the virus is and will remain in circulation. “A new and more severe variant cannot be ruled out in the future and people should continue to take precautions,” he said.
While he feels that there are very few chances of any rerun of the Delta variant, the professor said that officials should wait before taking any drastic measure.
The first wave had affected around 81,000 people in Lucknow alone between March 2020 and January 2021 and claimed the lives of 1,157 patients. The second wave triggered by the Delta and Delta Plus variants that lasted around 90 days infected 1.5 lakh people and 1,465 succumbed to the virus. The third wave caused by the Omicron variant turned out to be less dangerous. It started on December 22, 2021 and has so far infected 57,439 people and taken the lives of 38 patients.
While the Delta variant mainly attacked the lungs, the Omicron variant severely affected the upper respiratory area. This is the reason why many people remained asymptomatic or had mild symptoms ever after being infected with the coronavirus.
“The virus will keep mutating as long as it circulates. The possibility of the emergence of a lethal Covid-19 variant is highly unlikely, but we should wait till May before relaxing,” Prof Gulati said.
Echoing the same view, Prof Vikram Singh, superintendent of Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences, said that we should not be complacent.
“Since almost everyone has taken vaccine doses, the new variant, if it emerges, will not be as virulent (deadly) as Delta. But we cannot be complacent, as we were after the first wave,” Prof Singh said.
Experts said that complacency after the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the main factors responsible for the devastating second wave. On the other hand, rapid vaccinations and precautions after the second wave of the coronavirus resulted in much less mortality in the third wave.