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IIT Kanpur and IIT Hyderabad have predicted the third wave of COVID-19 in mid-August that will see a rise in cases in October, but top microbiologist and virologist, Dr Gagandeep Kang said that this will depend on the type of variants, and added that if they are more infectious then cases can increase at the same pace as the first wave.

According to Dr Kang, who is the vice-chair for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Board, "The third wave depends on type variants or strains, and if driven by variant, it becomes very difficult to predict the numbers."

"I think a lot depends on whether the wave is driven by variants, or driven by strains. If it's driven by variants then it becomes very difficult to predict what the numbers are likely to be," she further said.

She also said that if the wave is driven by strains then the number of COVID-19 cases is likely to be low.

"If it's driven by strains then we know numbers are likely to be low. I am actually not very sure about the timing of the third wave or whether we will have a third wave in August or September at all. We know that this is a virus that is dependent on the environment and I think what we are seeing from certain other parts of the world is that there may be some seasonal elements to this virus. We have to get through another winter and see that how that plays out, in determining how much we see and when."

Responding to a question on the US reporting a higher number of cases and whether India can face a similar spike in COVID-19 cases, she said, "Of course, I think as long as virus replication continues to happen, the chances of a new variant emerging are very very high and the most urgent thing that we can do is to protect ourselves from virus replication as much as possible. That only happens when we make sure that people do not get infected."

"One thing is preventing people from getting sick so that the healthcare system does not get overburdened. But if we want to prevent the emergence of a new variant, we also have to prevent transmission of the disease because any amount of replication will continue to be a threat. That is what we are seeing with delta. Newer variants are able to infect people who have been vaccinated," said Dr Kang.

She stressed that it's important for both the vaccinated as well as unvaccinated people to take precautionary measures and protect themselves from the disease.

"It's very important for us to continue to study this virus and make sure that we can limit infections both in the vaccinated and unvaccinated," said Dr Kang.

As eight states in India are showing an upsurge in COVID-19 cases and festival season is also coming that can lead to a rise in cases if COVID-19 guidelines are not followed, Dr Kang said, "Layered interventions need to be followed. Everybody knows what needs to be done but the problem is people don't do it, and they don't do it consistently and I understand that people get tired. You want to see your family, want to relax a little. But I think one of the things that we have to understand is until we get the bulk of the world, not just our family, our community and our town, we have to get the bulk of the world vaccinated. Then maybe we will be able to relax to some extent. Until then we have to think about layered interventions. Not one thing, but what are the many things that can be done to protect ourselves and others."

"Move out only if you need to go out. What is really important is that we should be wearing masks, maintain social distancing. We should be looking at clean places that are fully ventilated, avoid crowded places, and of course we should be making sure that who is around is vaccinated. All of these are layered interventions. It's important to have these in place," added Dr Kang.

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