Is there’s yet another possibility of a second wave of Coronavirus infection looming over the world? Let us find out.
The second wave of coronavirus usually refers to a revival of a preceding viral infection that seems to have decreased for a certain period of time but goes on rising, resulting in a second wave of infections.
Reportedly, the second wave is worse than the first as the level of infections is now higher than in March and April across many countries.
The second wave of Coronavirus infection in Europe
The sudden re-emergence of the infection and the rise in the number of infected people has alarmed the European authorities.
The second wave of Coronavirus infection left European countries scrambling to contain the virus. The rise in cases in Europe is broad-based with not even Germany, which had a successful track record in containing the spread, spared this time.
France and Spain have declared an emergency by announcing regional lockdowns, shutting of schools, and colleges in affected areas again.
In France, daily new cases peaked at more than 50,000 cases daily in the second wave. Currently, the country has a total of 1,198,695 cases as of now and the death toll is 35,541.
Spain was already one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, and now has about 1,174,916 cases and more than 35,298 deaths.
The reasons of second wave of Coronavirus infection could be;
- In order to determine if COVID-19 infections change with seasons, researchers studied the spread of the virus in the past ten months in different parts of the world with different climates.
They have claimed that the winter season, being a season of flu, poses a peculiar challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. There could be a possible worsening of the COVID-19 outbreak over the next few months.
Russia and the United Kingdom are already witnessing the second wave of COVID-19, because of the winter.
- Adding to that, experts say there had never really a full-scale lockdown in Europe, as they feared the damaging consequences on their economies.
Most of the countries opted for light restrictions. Also, there was never a mandatory use of face masks, with exception of certain indoor places.
All this has enabled the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
Why India can be more vulnerable?
Winter has already begun in parts of the northern hemisphere and researchers have found that the COVID-19 virus, like several other respiratory viruses, thrive in cold and dry conditions.
Therefore, especially in the places where the spread is not under control like India, the winter months could be catastrophic, if the preventive measures are not strictly complied with.
The number of daily new coronavirus cases in India has now fallen to half from the peak of almost a lakh in mid-September to fifty thousand in October end.
The second wave of Coronavirus infection can be dangerous in India due to;
Virus is changing its strain
The strain first detected in Europe in February is known as D614G, it is now the dominant strain worldwide. In layman terms, this strain features a swap between amino acids, identified as D and G, at position 614 in the code of the virus’s spike protein.
Reports say that till March, more than 90% of patients displayed infections with the D variation but G began to dominate thereafter, so much so that it is now seen in about 97% of samples worldwide.
A recent paper said at least six strains of the novel coronavirus have so far been identified.
Two strains are said to be different when they evoke different responses from the human immune system or spread differently.
In India, the first strain of coronavirus detected was the L strain originating from Wuhan, which eventually mutated into S and G strains, which spread across the country prevalently.
Whatever it may, the Novel coronavirus is changing its strain rapidly making the spread of infection fast. It all depends upon the characteristics of the virus and how people behave in these colder months (1).
Combination of infections
We are already witnessing a pattern of combination infections. The upsurge of cases observed for typhoid, dengue, pneumonia, or the seasonal flu – where coronavirus is coming with these infections making the condition critical.
Cold waves in winter
The relation between the covid-19 epidemic and cold weather is yet to be understood fully. However, there could be a seasonality linked with the spread of other types of infectious diseases and viruses, so could Coronavirus.
As per the recent observations by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a colder than usual winter season could be on the cards this year, along with frequent and intense episodes of cold waves in the country.
This may worsen the trigger the second wave of Coronavirus infection.
Cross ventilation and Dry air
More and more people stay indoors during winter, though staying indoors may not be the solution. Especially with more and more people in the home or building, it will increase the level of stagnant air and increase the chance of spread.
Therefore, experts do not recommend minimizing cross ventilation during this winter season to avoid cold air.
Also, the dry air outside can be uncomfortable to breathe. It becomes natural for seasonal infections caused by respiratory viruses like influenza to rise in winter.
As the mercury levels dip, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned that India could be witnessing more number of cases of respiratory illnesses daily. Also, the air pollution during the winter season worsens respiratory illnesses.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), recently raised concerns on how the rising air pollution combined with coronavirus infection and lung complications can possibly lead to serious consequences.
In the case of Covid-19, current evidence indicates that chronic exposure to air pollutants is associated with more severe infections and higher mortality.
When your lungs are compromised and weak, you have more chances of developing complications like pneumonia during COVID. You have to take care of SMS – social distancing, mask, and sanitization more so in the coming days (2).
It is for sure that the virus degrades much faster on surfaces in humid or warmer environments. The low sunlight in winter can pose a threat to the immunity of the individual.
A recent study conveyed that reduced UV light leads to increased COVID-19 infection in autumn and peak in winters. Therefore, scientists urge increased caution and stringent control measures during the winter months (3).
In India, the festival season starts in the month of August and ends on December eve. The Diwali festival is India’s biggest festival to be celebrated.
The shopping desire, spending on food, social gathering, and celebrations can be observed in this season – followed by Eid and Christmas time.
In some areas, there is Covid-19 behavior fatigue. People are now tired of taking safety measures and in Delhi, they can be seen without masks and gathering in crowds.
While the lockdown began in March and still continues in the form of social distancing, there surely exists an air of tiredness and unrest.
Latent risk to Youngsters
The healthy and young adults have started to travel and move about while ignoring basic precautions such as steam inhalation, social distancing, wearing masks, and using a hand wash.
They perceive that they are not in the Covid -19 risk group. Yet young people more at Covid-19 risk than ever before. They may be asymptomatic and unaware; transmitting the infection rapidly as they move about.
India has the most number of young diabetics and hypertensive patients. And, undiagnosed and untreated conditions can have a ‘latent’ risk that they’re completely unaware of.
Combating the second wave of Coronavirus
In order to combat the virus, health experts have informed that increasing immunity during this season is the primary defense until a vaccine is approved for public use.
- People are advised to eat healthy foods which include vegetables, fruits, and other protein-rich foods. Vitamin C and antioxidants help to build up immunity and prevent various illnesses.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by meeting the 80 percent nutritional requirements and 20 percent physical activity is essential.
- People with pre-existing health conditions like respiratory problems, diabetics, and heart diseases, are advised not to step out as they are more prone to severe COVID-19.
The next two months would be crucial due to the festival season. The government should not take the foot off the pedal and restrict people to;
- Use face masks
- Practice social distancing
- Low-key festival celebration
- Ensure personal hygiene.
Any hastiness to return to normalcy poses the risk of the tide turning once again.
While we have only experienced the implications of the virus in the summers, there’s no telling as to what the winter season has in store for us. It is too early to conclude if COVID-19 is a seasonal virus like cold and cough.
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