Top virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic in the country may be heading towards endemic stage, adding that a third wave, if it does take place, is likely to be due to local flare-ups that would be smaller and spread wider across the country.
“When you have something that is not going away in the near future, then it is heading towards endemicity. Right now, we are not looking at eliminating SARS-CoV-2. This means that the virus has to become endemic,” Dr Kang, who teaches at Vellore’s Christian Medical College, said in an interview with PTI.
An endemic stage is one when a disease or illness, instead of going away, is regularly found in a particular region, meaning that people there have to learn to live with it.
Explaining further, the vaccinologist said, “There have been several endemic diseases, such as influenza. But there can also be a pandemic layered on top of an epidemic disease. Thus, if there is a new variant, which totally escapes the immune response, there could be yet another pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that SARS-CoV-2 is only a pandemic, and has stopped being endemic.”
A potential third wave, Dr Kang projected, would not take place on a scale as big as that during the previous two waves. “What we would see are local, smaller flare-ups that would be spread wider across the country. Together, these may form a third wave if there is a lot of behavioural change during the festive season. However, its scale won’t be anything like what we saw before,” she said.
She also called for development of better vaccines to deal with new, emerging variants of Covid-19. “Our vaccines are based on the ancestral variant of Sars-CoV-2. Are these the best that we have? I think that we need to develop new variant-based and new platform vaccines, and then test very carefully in clinical trials to maximise the values that these bring,” Dr Kang proposed.