Will A Second Wave Of COVID

With a second wave of COVID-19 said to be approaching and the possibility of recurrence, what can we expect? Find out how the second wave can impact India and how you can stay safe.

Since the outset, health care providers across the world have worried about the implications of a second wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This is a valid concern as past pandemics, especially with viral respiratory infections, have occurred in waves. Most tellingly, the 1918 influenza pandemic turned deadly with its second wave. After the summer surge, experts have therefore been prepping for a surge in cases that were expected in fall or winter. At the same time, there is no evidence that infection gives rise to lasting immunity, which also exposes many to a risk of reinfection or recurrent COVID-19 infection.

Impact of Second Wave of Coronavirus

Just as the first wave of coronavirus hit Europe earlier than it did India, so too has the second wave, giving us time to learn and prepare. Although most European nations responded effectively and swiftly against the first wave of COVID-19, the sudden surge of the second wave caught some off guard, setting off alarm bells. What seems notable is the rapid increase in infected cases, which has led to renewed emergencies, curfews, and other restrictions across much of Europe. So far, the second wave has fortunately not been anywhere near as grim as the second wave of the 1918 flu, as there have been advances in treatments, improving patient outcomes, and the main problem has been with the level of infections, not mortality rates.

The Threat of COVID-19 Recurrence

Despite our hopes and claims made by some leaders about ‘immunity’ to the virus, there has been no evidence to support these claims to date. In fact, there have been growing reports about reinfections or recurrence of SARS-CoV-2. Evidence of reinfection and the lack of long-term immunity to COVID-19 first emerged in August, when a patient who had recovered in March once again tested positive. Researchers were able to confirm through epidemiological, clinical, serological, and genomic analyses that the patient was reinfected and that it was not a relapse. Since then, there have been many more reports of patients being reinfected with COVID-19 in Europe, as well as the US.

The case in the US was notable and findings were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The study findings indicate that infection with COVID-19 for a second time could be problematic as it is associated with more severe symptoms. Researchers noted that the patient experienced mild symptoms with the first COVID-19 infection, but the reinfection was more severe, requiring hospitalization and oxygen support. This can be inferred as a lack of guaranteed total immunity and some believe that antibodies against COVID-19 may only offer protection against a brief period of time. This makes it important for patients who have recovered to also take safeguards against recurrence.

Prevention of COVID-19 Recurrence

Strategies to prevent a recurrence or reinfection with COVID-19 are no different from the general measures used to safeguard against the virus. The only method that is close to fool proof is vaccination and despite the rapid advances, vaccination will not be available to most of us for a while. Until then, you can reduce your risk of infection by following the recommendations provided by the WHO:

  • Avoid or limit time spent in social gatherings and crowds
  • Make it a point to always wear a mask when in public places and in close proximity to people
  • Maintain safe distancing of at least 6 feet from others as far as possible
  • Practice frequent handwashing with soap and use sanitizers when washing is not possible
  • Disinfect high contact surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons, and railings
  • Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose, and mouth

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511360/
  2. https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa1275/5897019
  3. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30764-7/fulltext
  4. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/covid-19/information/transmission-protective-measures

 

Dr Srinivas Charry
MBBS, MD(Internal Medicine)
Consultant - Internal Medicine

Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.

 

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