Renowned Critical Care Specialist Dr. Brijendra Kumar Rao, said that whether it comes or not, we need to be prepared for the third wave of COVID. The doctor, while Speaking at the virtual COVID Think Tank Event, stressed the importance of caution and preparation for the country. On the subject, Critical Care: New Architecture, the expert emphasized the importance of learning from the past.
‘The problem is that the second wave was nothing like the first wave, so we weren’t able to deal with it the same way. To go from a small number to over four lakh active cases is not something we could have prepared for in the same way. No country has dealt with a challenge that great. Now, we have these speculations of the third wave. The only thing we know is that we should be prepared for it whether it comes or not,” he added.
He says it’s not a question of where we went wrong. ‘It is about being prepared for what is to come, even if the challenges are different. A few months ago, we didn’t know what we were facing. But now, we have the experience of the first wave and the second wave with us. If it is anything like the previous one, we should be able to sail through easily.’ The doctor believes that the medical infrastructure and the authorities could learn a valuable lesson about building capacity. Rao calls for the timely training of medical students and allied health practitioners.
In an epidemic, what is a wave?
It is not possible to define what makes up a wave in an epidemic in a textbook. In the long run, this term describes the trends of rising and declining infections. As the curve grows, it resembles a wave. Historically, the term wave referred to the seasonality of the disease. Several viral infections are seasonal in nature, and they recur at certain times of the year. The infection rate rises and then dips, only to return after a period.
If there is a third wave, how can we identify it?
Currently, a possible surge in cases, at the national level is being discussed as the third wave. After having peaked on May 6, the national curve appears to be headed in a downward direction. Since the end of August, the daily case count has dropped to 2.6 lakh from a peak of 4.14 lakh, while the number of active cases has dropped to 32.25 lakh from a high of 37.45 lakh. According to current trends, India will reach the same number of cases as by July, as it did in February. If a fresh surge follows and continues for a few weeks or months, it would be considered as the third wave.
Can we expect a stronger third wave?
There has been speculation that the third wave will be stronger than the second. However, it is impossible to predict. Every new wave is typically weaker than the previous one. Since the entire population is at risk, the virus has relatively free reign when it emerges. There would be fewer susceptible people during its subsequent runs because some of them would have gained immunity.
Modular hospitals; The infrastructure in hospitals was put under heavy strain during the second wave of Covid-19 cases. This situation was somewhat alleviated by modular hospitals. A modular hospital is an extension of hospital infrastructure and can be built next to an existing hospital building. Project Extension Hospitals is one such initiative. Around 50 hospitals in the highest-reporting states were assessed for their requirements.
MediCAB hospitals; Modulus Housing, a start-up nurtured at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), developed MediCAB hospitals. In three weeks, a 100-bed extension facility can be built. MediCAB hospitals are designed with a zone of intensive care units that can accommodate life-support systems and medical devices. These portable hospitals have a lifespan of about 25 years and are easily moving into a different location after a disaster. Especially in rural areas and smaller towns, these rapid-deployment hospitals can fill a major gap in India’s health infrastructure.
Project O2; The second wave of Covid-19 also witnessed an increase in the need for medical oxygen in different parts of the country. Having access to adequate amounts of medical oxygen has become more and more critical as we move forward. Project O2 for India is enabling India to supply critical raw materials such as zeolites, set up oxygen plants, make compressors, concentrators, and ventilators. As part of the effort, the consortium is not only planning to provide immediate help, but also strengthening the manufacturing ecosystem for the long term. Experts are evaluating oxygen plants, concentrators, and ventilators from a pool of Indian manufacturers, start-ups, and MSMEs.