A new simulation model put out by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) has said that the third wave of the coronavirus may not be as drastic or large as expected unless there is a spike of reinfections due to the ageing/decaying of antibodies or the presence of a COVID-19 variant that can escape the immune response. This model came from the TIFR’s School of Technology and Computer Science and was conducted by Sandeep Juneja and Daksh Mittal.
The simulation estimates that nearly 80 per cent of Mumbai’s population, including 90 per cent of the slum population and 70 per cent of people from non-slum regions, have been infected with some form of the virus as of June 1, 2021.
“Mechanisms need to be in place that can continuously measure the emergence of reinfections and variants that can breakthrough existing immunity, including immunity provided through vaccines,” the TIFR report said.
This simulation was conducted based on a scenario wherein the new variant is 50 per cent more virulent than the Delta variant and Mumbai has opened up at least 60 per cent of its establishments in the month of June.
The study also noted that any future COVID-19 waves are likely to be more damaging in areas that weren’t exposed to the virus in prior waves. Simply put, the model predicts that people who were previously unaffected by the virus may be at a bigger risk for future waves, including the impending third wave.
The TIFR report further mentions that assuming vaccinations are extensive in the months of June, July, and August, and that the existing vaccines have an efficacy of between 75 to 95 per cent, the third wave may not cause as much damage as initially expected.
While these are hopeful signs, the second wave has taught us that vigilance is crucial, even when cases appear to under control. The emerging Delta Plus mutation was recently classified under the ‘Variants of Concern’ (VOC) category while multiple cases have been reported across the country, including in Maharashtra.