Hyderabad: Natural immunity developed among individuals who have recovered during the two waves of Covid-19 and the immunity gained through vaccines, especially among targeted beneficiaries in the last few months, could play a significant role in weakening the severity of a possible third wave of the pandemic, senior health officials here said.
The thought of SARs-CoV-2 virus mutating might sound alarming, but in reality, virus mutation is a common and natural phenomenon. Viruses mutate constantly and epidemiologists and public health experts in Telangana point out that it should not come as a surprise if a new mutant variant triggers the third wave in the State and elsewhere.
At the same time, senior public health officials are hoping that a combination of factors, including preparedness and immunity gained naturally and through vaccines, will ‘weaken’ the impact of a possible third wave.
“There is no doubt that the second wave of the pandemic had high morbidity. However, herd immunity could play an important role if a third wave springs up. There is already a large section of the population in the State which has gained natural immunity from Covid. So far, we have administered vaccines to 80 lakh individuals, and in the coming months, the number is expected to increase as our vaccine drive will intensify. Therefore, there is every chance that the third wave will not be as severe as the second,” Director of Public Health Dr G Srinivasa Rao said.
People need not get rattled by the talk of the impending third wave. “To a large extent, the intensity of the third wave will also depend on behaviour of people in the community. There is a need for all of us to realise that following Covid-appropriate behaviour should be a norm and part of our lives in the foreseeable future,” Director of Medical Education Dr K Ramesh Reddy said.
As part of the efforts to weaken the impact of a possible third wave, attempts are on to improve the existing medical infrastructure. Almost all government hospital beds could have oxygen supply lines in the coming months. The authorities have also decided to create about 6,000 beds for children including 2,000 at Niloufer Hospital.
“We have seen what happened with swine flu; it has subsequently weakened and now is a seasonal disease. There is a distinct possibility that herd immunity gained through natural infection and vaccines could weaken the third wave,” Dr Srinivasa Rao said.