Viral load high, third wave is inevitable: govt. adviser

#GS2 #HEALTH

CONTEXT: 

  • The third wave of COVID-19 is inevitable, given the amount of virus in circulation, K. VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, said. 
  • Professor Vijay Raghavan said there was a need to update the COVID-19 vaccines to deal with new strains and mutations. 
  • He pointed out that while the nature of the virus was to mutate, the basic precautions against it to break the transmission did not change.  

Why are the cases on the rise?

  • When cases started declining, people violated COVID protocol like wearing a face mask, washing hands regularly and maintaining social-physical distance. Gatherings began becoming large particularly from January 2021 onwards.
  • Rules were relaxed. Penalties were not enforced. The pattern was seen across the country allowing the novel coronavirus to create a second and possibly stronger wave. 
  • The queues outside polling booths and gatherings at the election rallies of all the parties defied Covid-19 protocol. The government also sanctioned many festivals. This sent a confusing message to the public and also the grassroots-level functionaries of the government. It weakened the vigil against the pandemic.
  • India has recorded over 1.2 crore cases of Covid-19 yet the pandemic is still mostly concentrated around cities, especially the bigger cities. These cities have greater mobility giving more opportunities for the virus to spread from one person to another. 
  • In the current wave, the marking of the containment zone has been less strict. In cities, the government has asked civil authorities to adopt micro-containment, with perhaps just a floor or a house defined as a containment zone. Earlier, an entire apartment or area would be made a containment zone, reducing the chances of transmission of the virus.
  • The evolution of coronavirus is among the major reasons for the second wave. Scientists have detected numerous mutations in the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Some of these mutations have produced what they call is Variants of Concern (VOCs).
  • India has reported such VOCs from several states including the worst-impacted ones by the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The L452R mutation found in the variant B1.671, first detected in India, too has been associated with increased infectivity.
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