Eminent virologist and former Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore professor Dr T Jacob John on Tuesday said that the probability of a fourth COVID-19 wave in India is “extremely low”.
On being asked about why some of the states are reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases, the virologist said that Delhi and Haryana had minor increases in COVID numbers over the last two to three weeks but the increase was not being sustained. To his knowledge, he said, no state was reporting a surge in the COVID-19 cases.
“To my knowledge, no State is reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases. India remains with low and relatively steady numbers throughout March and April so far,” Dr John said. “Delhi and Haryana had minor increases in the last two to three weeks but the increase is not being sustained. One thousand cases in Delhi is equal to just 5 per lakh population. During the “endemic” phase which is applicable to India and also every state, we must not expect a continuous decline in numbers at all. Continuous falls can not occur because the end of such a graph is zero,” he added.
The virologist reiterated that the possibility of a fourth wave is extremely low. “If a fourth wave comes it will be a total surprise to me. Therefore I cannot guess anything about it. The probability of a fourth wave is extremely low. Our best defence against the ill effects of a wave is very high coverage of vaccination. Full vaccination means two doses plus a precautionary dose at least 6 months later. The official version of two doses as full vaccination is unscientific,” Dr John said.
The current population-based vaccination coverage is 75 per cent for one dose and 65 per cent for two doses. On being asked about what should be done to control this surge?, the virologist said: “Not using the mask is the number one culprit. I am disappointed that experts and policy leaders have not been teaching people the immense value of wearing a mask when interacting with people.”
When asked if schools would be shut down as many states showed children testing Covid19 positive. “Not at all. Schools should remain open. During the ‘endemic phase’ which is our present as well as future, we will find an occasional case which should be dealt with in a case by case manner,” Dr John said.
So is there a new variant of the coronavirus? To this, the virologist responded in the negative. “Wherever there were ups, there have been downs also. The rises are not sustained at all. So I don’t think any new variant is involved. However, variant screening must be sustained so that the virus does not surprise us again,” he noted.