The much-feared third wave of coronavirus is likely to hit India by mid-August, while cases may peak in September, a report said on Monday, even as the second wave is not yet over in the country.
The report titled ‘Covid-19: The race to finishing line’, published by SBI Research, stated that vaccination is the only saviour as global data shows that, on an average, the third wave peak cases are around 1.7 times the peak cases at the time of second wave.
Only 4.6 per cent of the population in India is fully vaccinated, while 20.8 per cent have received one dose, much lower compared to other countries including the US (47.1 per cent), the UK (48.7 per cent), Israel (59.8 per cent), Spain (38.5 per cent), France (31.2), among others.
“India has achieved its second wave peak on May 7 and going by the current data, the country can experience around 10,000 cases somewhere around the second week of July,” State Bank of India’s Group Chief Economic Adviser, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, said in the report.
“However, based on historical trends, the cases can start rising by the second fortnight of Aug’ 21 with peak cases at least a month later,” he added.
Current cases are now hovering around 45,000 since the past week, indicating that the devastating second wave is “not yet over in the country and is exhibiting a fat tail”.
“In the first wave as well, the cases declined gradually, with cases around 45,000 for 21 days before any meaningful decline in daily cases,” Ghosh said.
Further, 51 cases of the Delta Plus variant have been detected, so far, from 12 states. New cases in the top 15 districts, which are mostly urban, increased again in June. But the good thing is that their fatality rate has been constant for three months.
On the other hand, the share of rural districts in new cases has refused to decline meaningfully since July 2020, when it breached 45 per cent and has fluctuated since then.
“Vaccination seems to be the only answer,” Ghosh said.
India has started giving more than 40 lakh vaccination doses per day. While states like Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Uttarakhand have already given both vaccine doses to a larger percentage of the population above 60 years, the overall vaccination in rural areas remains low, the report said.
Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, and Jharkhand have inoculated less proportion of those above 45 years. These states need to pick up pace, the report said.
Delta strain, which caused much havoc in India during the second way in April and May, has been detected in the US, the UK, China, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, and Switzerland. It is the dominant variant in the UK and now accounts for 95 per cent of cases being sequenced.
Citing examples of reasonably vaccinated countries like the UK and Israel, Ghosh said “one can not become complacent even after taking vaccine”. Other measures such as masks, social distancing and Covid-appropriate is a must.