‘Third wave could be prevented with collective efforts’: US health expert
Each new variant of coronavirus is becoming more and more transmissible causing concerns among public health professionals, said Dr Krutika Kuppalli
Amid several theories coming in of a likely third wave, US Medical expert Dr Krutika Kuppalli believes that the third wave of the pandemic, that India could possibly encounter, can be prevented with collective efforts of people and the government.
Speaking exclusively to India News Network, Dr Kuppalli, who is the Vice Chair of Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee, said that the third wave could be prevented if Covid-appropriate behavior is maintained and vaccination drive picks up pace.
“We need to take care of the public health measures that we know about for a very long time including wearing face masks, social distancing, trying to stay at home, and at the same time trying to push out the vaccines as early as possible,” she said.
Noting that each new variant of the coronavirus is becoming more and more transmissible causing concerns among the public health professionals community, she said, “It needs collective work of everybody to understand the things we need to do to bring the virus under control. And everybody should participate in that to prevent another wave of the Covid infections from happening.”
On the part of the Indian government, Dr Kuppalli noted that ramping up the manufacturing of vaccine doses and vaccinating more and more people as soon as possible has been a good step.
India has recently announced ‘Free vaccine for all’ above the age of 18 years giving a boost to the country’s vaccination drive. A record 80 lakh-plus Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered across the country on the first day of the central government's revised free vaccination program.
The center has set an ambitious target to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of this year. For this, the country has ramped up the manufacturing of vaccines in the country and has also opened its doors to foreign made vaccines.
Further she said that the government should invest in the following crucial steps. “While reopening we need to invest in testing and sequencing and understanding what’s going on because if we don’t we are going to be back in the same situation in coming weeks again. The worst thing we can do is keep opening and shutting down the economy. I understand the hardship it is causing to the country and people and I really urge the government to think about that and support people during this time by providing them with economic and mental health support. And we should also think about the healthcare workers because considering there could be another surge of cases.”
India is amid the second wave of the pandemic. The country saw a sudden surge in the active cases in April that shook the entire nation. As of now, the active cases have started to come down and the graph has started to flatten.
With this, many states have slowly uplifted the lockdown measures reopening the economy. A sudden rush in markets in several states has been experienced causing scientists and experts to predict a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
While some experts have predicted that India will be hit by a third wave in October, others have noted that the resurgence in infections could be seen as soon as in the next two or three weeks.
Dr Randeep Guleria, Chief of All Institute of Medical Sciences, has predicted that the third wave is inevitable in India and he expected it to arrive in the next two to three weeks if people don’t follow Covid-appropriate behavior.
Speaking of the likelihood of the third wave, Dr Kuppalli said, “I think that there definitely is the concern that there would be a third wave and it is because the lockdown measures are lifted and people have started interacting with each other again. They have started leaving their houses and going back to their normal activities and that would increase the risk of infection particularly with this Delta variant that has 50-60 percent more transmissibility than the Alpha variant. So, it is very concerning and you have to think about that when you slowly open up society.”
As the second wave of the pandemic was quite sudden and unexpected in India, people have started to panic and there were cases when they went on and occupied precious resources in hospitals without even needing to. This had led to a situation of several thousands of emergencies in the country a few months ago.
Dr Kuppalli, who is also involved with IndiaCovidSOS team, believes that people should not really panic if they have symptoms of coronavirus as about 80 percent of the people are going to do well if they have coronavirus disease.
Recommending certain measures to be taken if a person has been contracted with Covid-19 disease, she said, “One of the first things we recommend is trying to take rest, maintain good oral health, and if you have access to Oximeter, check the oxygen level in your blood and we have different recommendations based on your oxygen level. If you find your oxygen level lower than 92 then there is a point in going to the hospital otherwise not everybody with coronavirus disease needs to go to the hospital. People who are very sick need to use these precious resources.”
“If you have mild symptoms then it is recommended to stay at home. And that is very important because we don’t want you to go out and about and infect other people. We want you to stay at home. And you should also self-isolate from other people in your home. What we know is most people who have contracted with Covid do very well and most people with the right amount of oxygen can recover at home,” she added.
In her concluding remarks, Dr Kuppalli noted that vaccination is the key and people should not hesitate while taking up their shots. Even if a person has been contracted by the disease, he/she must get vaccinated as it is still unclear for how long the natural antibody works for an individual, she said.
“Different people have different antibody responses and we are still on the way to understanding that. There are certain people who get reinfected so that is why it is recommended for people who have had Covid should also get vaccinated.”