New Delhi: Top virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang said on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic in the country may be heading towards the 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.
The endemic stage is when a population learns to live with a virus. It is very different from the epidemic stage when the virus overwhelms a population.
In an interview with PTI over the COVID-19 situation in India, Dr Kang said after the second wave, maybe a quarter of the country's population continues to be susceptible to the virus.
"So will we be able to achieve within that quarter the same numbers and the same patterns that we saw in the second wave? That I think is unlikely. What we will see are local flare-ups that will be smaller and spread wider across the country. Now if that will collect to form the third wave, that may happen if we have a lot of behaviour change around festivals, but the scale is not going to be anything like what we saw before," she said.
Asked if Covid may be heading towards an endemic stage in India, Dr Kang said, "Yes."
"When you have something that is not going to go away in the near future, it is heading towards endemicity. Right now, we are not looking at eradicating or eliminating SARS-CoV2, which means it has to become endemic," Dr Kang, who is a professor in the Christian Medical College, Vellore, said.
She also called for the 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.