Yes, that’s right, a second wave of the Coronavirus! However, while debates are still on if this could be a possibility, India is yet to get done with her first wave of the infection. We haven’t even hit our peak yet, and other Nations are already preparing for their second outbreak. These said Nations rejoiced at having conquered the virus, and even though this flattening of the curve was observed, experts warn this is no time to celebrate.
Logically enough too. The second wave of the Spanish flu, that hit a century ago, was deadlier than the first. Will there thus be a second wave of Coronavirus? Experts say, not yet.
Damage caused by Coronavirus
Over the world, 467,000 people have succumbed to the virus. The United States, which is still the top affected Nation, has a death toll of 122,000. It goes unsaid that the Corona Pandemic has caused destruction that will take years to overcome. With lockdowns imposed, job layoffs, mental health crises, hospitals overflowing with the dead, and bringing the world on its knees, the pandemic has crippled humanity. And public health experts are beginning to question if this, what we’re going through right now, is in fact the second wave of the virus.
Waves of the virus
To give an idea of the said ‘wave’ that’s been spoken about, it is much like the waves at sea. A bump. An up and down motion. There are no defined boundaries, to what can be called a second wave and what can be considered just a first wave with a number of bumps. “When you have 20,000 plus infections a day, how can you talk about a second wave? We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave, before you have a second wave.” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH. The graph that records the daily peak of the infection, over the span of time, showed a peak in April. This, as cases shot the roof in New York. After the lockdown was imposed, the cases began to drop. Can this then be considered as the end of the first wave?
Experts say this drop was more like a plateau, and not a trough after a wave.
A second wave of Coronavirus is possible
Flu infections sometimes feature a second wave of the virus. However, in medical terms a distinguishing marker between the first and second wave, is a different strain of the virus.
As far as what the trigger for this second wave could be, it may be lifting the lockdown restrictions. Though lockdowns have caused disruption to daily life, they have, to some extent, been successful in their endeavour to curb the virus. This phase-wise lifting of the curbs could thus be the best way of limiting the spread of the virus. The lockdown could thus be what limits the second wave of Coronavirus.
To give context to this point, take the example of South Korea. South Korea has confirmed their second wave of Coronavirus infections. Head of the Korea Centers for Disease Control (KCDC), Jung Eun-kyeong said, “The first wave lasted up until April. Yet since May, clusters of new cases have grown, including outbreaks at nightclubs in the capital, Seoul. Between those periods, daily confirmed cases had fallen from nearly a thousand to zero infections recorded for three days in a row.”
A recent resurgence of cases, caused her to conclude that the country was in the grip of a second wave of the virus, and she expects it to continue.
The deciding ‘R’
This is a measure of just how contagious an infectious disease is. It tells you the average number of people who will contract the disease from an infected person. The R value at the start of the pandemic, was 3. Every infected person was spreading the infection to an average of 3 other persons. This meant the virus was spreading fast. However now with social distancing, it is a matter of time until we see how high the R value will be.
Will the second wave be worse?
Theories revolving around the second wave of Coronavirus, suggest that the second wave might in fact be less dangerous. However, the challenge is when the weather turns cold. The winter will mark the simultaneous return of Covid-19 and the flu. This could strain the already crumbling health infrastructure. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has noted that a winter outbreak or the second wave of Coronavirus could be more troublesome even if it is smaller than the one we’re having now.
India is still yet to hit her peak
While the country scores everyday, defeating its own tally of the highest number of Covid cases recorded in a day, experts say the peak is still far away. In fact, November is estimated to be the soar in the cases, up to 20 lakh! And that will be the peak after which the Coronavirus infection will start to subside. In the major metropolitan cities, the health infrastructure has crumbled under the burden of rising cases. With the increasing toll of infections, the ICU beds, the ventilators and quarantine centres are falling short at a rapid pace. If India continues at this rate, studies warn there will be a time wherein the isolation beds will be inadequate for 5.4 months, the ICU beds for 4.6 months and ventilators for 3.9 months.
India still needs to get a grip on the current situation, before we even fathom about a second wave of the Coronavirus.