It is almost 17 months since the pandemic began in India and people infected in the first wave in 2020 could be vulnerable again due to dropping antibody levels. Keeping an eye on reinfections would help civic authorities catch the trend early. Juneja said it would help check the third wave if the 20% of Mumbaikars who haven’t caught Covid yet are vaccinated soon.
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“We also consider a somewhat pessimistic scenario where reinfections are significant (amongst the 80% recovered, 10% are amenable to infections, and if infected, will follow the same disease progression as the first time infected), or a new variant that is 50% more infectious and 50% more virulent than the Delta variant,” they said.
The other factors that could affect the third wave would be poor effectiveness of the vaccine (due to a variant causing escape from vaccine immunity) or opening up the city at 60% level but low compliance to Covid-appropriate behaviour.
“Despite these negative things, the resulting peak is seen to be no larger than that under the second wave,” said Juneja. The team said the third wave would be barely noticeable by September if four factors align: reinfections are mild; there are no new dangerous variants, vaccination coverage is extensive in June, July and August; and the vaccine is 75-95% effective.
The TIFR paper noted Mumbai’s peak during the second wave was lower than, say, peaks in Delhi and Bengaluru because of higher levels of previous exposure to the virus. Mumbai saw a peak of around 11,000 cases a day in the second wave, while Delhi saw a peak of around 28,000 and Bangalore of around 25,000.
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