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Decreasing immunity, more transmissible variants may be at the origin of the 3rd wave: Randeep Guleria

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Declining immunity, the emergence of a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus capable of evading the immune shield, and loosening of the lockdown may be the likely causes of a possible third wave of COVID-19, said Thursday. Director of AIIMS, Randeep Guleria. Speaking at an event, he said the third wave can be mitigated by following behavior appropriate to Covid, such as maintaining social distancing, using masks and taking vaccines.

He said several studies and modeling have been carried out to project the trajectory of a possible third wave of the pandemic under different scenarios.

“Such a model of an IIT shows that if all restrictions are lifted and a virus (variant) is also able to evade immunity, the next wave may be larger than the second wave.

“If some restrictions are maintained and the virus also remains stable, the cases will not be many and if we maintain more restrictions the cases will decrease further,” he said.

Guleria said that while new variants emerge, the available vaccines can be changed.

Guleria said the third wave of COVID-19 is being seen in other countries, but hospitalizations have declined, indicating vaccines are working.

Listing the possible reasons that may precipitate the third wave, Guleria said waning immunity – which restores individuals previously exposed to a susceptible state – the emergence of a new, more transmissible variant of the virus capable of escaping the immunity, and loosening of current blockages may be the likely causes.

He said that aside from Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V, several other vaccines are in the works in the country.

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