What to expect out of the Third Wave?
What can we expect to see going into the third wave has been the subject of conjecture across the Scientific Community, with a mass of conflicting studies giving conclusions that have served only to raise the level of ambiguity regarding what lies ahead of us. Let’s break these down to ascertain how severe our lack of information really is.
Conflicting studies on Omicron
Ever since its initial outbreak in South Africa, there has been a lot of speculation about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Omicron has divided medical experts and institutions nationally and internationally. The number of guidelines that are conflicting is harrowing to the layman. Hence, it is important to understand both sides of the studies and choose for ourselves.
Two vaccines effective or not?
On 17th December 2021, Imperial College London released one of the first reports on Omicron. The report fundamentally declared that “Omicron largely evades immunity from infection or two vaccine doses”. This was chilling news for the world as this outlined that there were no robust ways of defending ourselves from Omicron. However, a few weeks later Oregon Health & Science University of Medicine (OHSUM) claimed the opposite. The study led by Prof. Fikadu Tafesse audaciously publicized that “These vaccines are very effective against severe disease. Our study suggests that individuals who are vaccinated and then exposed to a breakthrough infection have super immunity”
The study done by OHSUM is now considered to be widely accepted as Her Majesty’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson made public remarks which said, “England can ride out Omicron”. What we can ascertain is that effective or not, vaccine do indeed help reduce hospitalizations.
Mild or not mild?
South Africa, the United Kingdom (UK) and even India to a large extent have rather remarkably controlled the severity of Omicron cases. In South Africa for instance even though the number of cases skyrocketed, hospitalizations, severe cases and deaths were low. The number of cases also plummeted after just a dozen days. The UK is still persevering with its spike in the number of cases, but it has managed to keep its hospitals mostly under manageable circumstances except calling the Army for helping out with staffing issues.
In America however, the dynamics are rather bleak. The nation registered a record-high 10 lakh cases on 3rd January and the number of cases is still high.
The issue in varying circumstances between America and the rest of the world may be blamed on vaccination but that is not sufficient. Vaccination high partisan (Democratic) American states such as California (66% of the population double vaxxed) and New York (72.4% of the population double vaxxed) are still suffering from Omicron. While South Africa had less than 30% of its population fully protected against COVID and still performed brilliantly.
The bigger picture here yet again makes us question the credibility of vaccines.
How does all this affect an individual?
Omicron controlling measures are affecting the young most severely. They have disrupted the academic activities of numerous Indian students by postponing competitive exams such as The UPSC and closing schools at the start of the year. The otherwise fluid academic year is off to another bumpy start revolving around heightened uncertainty, and that continues to take a toll on the students’ minds.
Furthermore, a key concern for individuals globally is credibility. The aforementioned conflicting studies best highlighted this factor. Individuals are losing trust in institutions and their vaccines; they are doubting the statistics and above all, they are questioning the science. It is scary how we know frighteningly little going into the third wave of the Pandemic.
We know that it's not as deadly as delta but also that it spreads like wildfire, case counts being the evidence.
~ Lorik Yadav
Imperial College of London
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