AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Tuesday that in order to stop subsequent waves of the deadly coronavirus in the country, everyone needs to aggressively follow COVID-appropriate behaviour until a significant number of our population is vaccinated or has acquired natural immunity.
“When enough people are vaccinated or when we acquire natural immunity against the infection, then these waves will stop. The only way out is to strictly follow COVID-appropriate behaviour,” he said at a media conference in Delhi.
Waves can occur due to change in the virus such as new variants. Since new mutations become more infectious, there is a higher chance for the virus to spread, he explained.
One of the reasons behind a wave can be human behaviour. Dr. Guleria cautions: “Whenever cases increase, there is a fear in people and human behaviour changes. People strictly follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and non-pharmaceutical interventions help break the chain of transmission.”
“However, when unlocking resumes, people tend to think that not much infection will happen and stop following COVID- appropriate behaviour. Due to this, the virus again starts spreading in the community, leading potentially to another wave” he pointed out.
Dr. Guleria explained that waves normally occur in pandemics caused due to respiratory viruses and the 1918 Spanish Flu, H1N1 (swine) flu are examples. The second wave of 1918 Spanish Flu was the biggest, after which there was a smaller third wave. Similarly, SARS-Cov-2 is a respiratory virus.
Multiple waves occur when there is a susceptible population. When a large part of the population acquires immunity against the infection, the virus becomes endemic and infection becomes seasonal – like that of H1N1 flu that commonly spreads during monsoon or winters, Dr Guleria said.