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Next waves could hit children, teens more but there is no need to panic, govt expert says

Dr Anurag Agrawal, director, Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology, also says it’s absolutely imperative that the government prepares for a third wave. 

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New Delhi: It is logical to predict that the third wave will affect children and younger people more but there is “no need to panic”, according to Dr Anurag Agrawal, director, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB).

IGIB, an institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has been sequencing the SARS-CoV-2 genes to understand how new variants will work.

“Preparation to fight with the third wave is a must. We need to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best,” Dr Agrawal told ThePrint. “On the surface, it seems logical to predict that future waves will increasingly affect children and younger people because this is the age-group where vaccines will reach slowly.” 

Vaccines for children and those below 18 are still under trials and are expected to receive approval in the next three to four months. Zydus’ ZyCoV-D and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are under trial for children starting two years of age. 

Until then, this demographic will remain the least protected in the population. 

Dr Agrawal, however, said there is “no need to panic” as the novel coronavirus in children is known to be milder than in adults. 

“In view of the fact that symptoms of severe illness remain very uncommon in this age-group, I do not see a reason to panic,” he said. 

Also read: Two vaccine doses needed for ‘strong protection’ against Covid variant from India: FT report

Why children were affected in second wave 

According to Dr Agrawal, who is also a pulmonologist and a medical researcher, children in Maharashtra and Delhi have got infected in the current Covid-19 wave.

“It could be due to three possible reasons,” he said.

First,  properties of the new variant could be responsible for infecting more children.

Second, opening of schools and colleges and infection of a large number of children and young people.  

Third, a shift in the socio-economic class such that a less resistant middle and upper class is getting infected this time.

He added that with viruses, all possibilities exist but “usually the virus increases its transmissibility but becomes less deadly”.

“However, we need to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best,” said Dr Agrawal, who is the co-chair at The Lancet and Financial Times Commission on Governing Health Futures. 

To minimise future waves, Dr Agrawal said people need to follow just “three things”. 

“Self-protection by wearing masks, medical protection by vaccines, and general protection by less crowded and better ventilated gathering places,” he added.

Also read: Steep fall in Covid cases by 1 July but a 3rd wave could hit in 6-8 months: Expert panel chief


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