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What is Second wave of COVID-19?

As we know that various countries in the world are fighting with COVID-19 pandemic including India. About 120,000 Americans have lost lives from the novel coronavirus and around 504,410 have died so far in the world. But there are worrisome as COVID-19 recent reported cases are increases in some countries again. Is this a 'second wave' of COVID-19? What is the second wave of COVID-19? Let us have a look!
Jun 29, 2020 17:08 IST
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What is Second wave of COVID-19?
What is Second wave of COVID-19?

 The main concern is that once the virus is ended and in some countries, economy and life are coming back to its normal position, the pandemic or some infection cases have been found. So, point is that the pandemic will resurface with renewed strength, affect health systems, and again orders for lockdown. 

What is a second wave?

First, let us tell you that there is no formal definition of a second wave or does not have well-defined parameters. We can understand in a way that it is like waves on the sea. The infections number increases and then comes down again, each cycle is one 'wave' of coronavirus. According to Dr. Mike Tildesley, the University of Warwick "It is not particularly scientific: how you define a wave is arbitrary."

Some explain any rise as a second wave, but it is often a bumpy first wave. This is happening in US states. 

Or we can understand in this way that pandemic occurs due to new pathogens and the vast majority of humans do not have immune protection against it. So, global outbreaks occur. Pandemics are uncommon, but influenza is one of the more frequent cases. 

It just happens that a novel alternative of flu virus spreads around the world and then decrease just like a tsunami. But a few months later, it comes back again and spreads around the world or large parts of the world again. 
Due to pandemic, several countries announced lockdown or restricted movement which slows the spread of the virus but leaves various people accessible to infection once they began to go out again.

In South Korea began easing its social distancing norms in April but now suspended plans for further relaxation in June as new infections emerged. In New Zealand, the first cases after 24 days are reported without coronavirus. In Beijing again facing an outbreak after 50 days virus-free days. Australia also reported its biggest daily rise in COVID-19 cases in the last two months and is now considering reimposing social distancing. The growing figures have stoked fears of a second wave in Australia.

What is quarantine and how it helps in tackling COVID-19?

The main tools to stop a cluster from going into a wave are testing, isolating, and contact-tracing.

It is yet not clear that a second wave may come to the UK. According to Dr. Tildesley "I really think at the moment there is huge uncertainty..but to be honest it is something I'm very concerned about." It is clear that the virus is still there and it is no less deadly or infectious as earlier at the time of start in 2020. Only 5% of the people in the UK are thought to be infected but there is no guarantee that they all are immune. 

In The Wall Street Journal, Vice President Mile Pence wrote "There is not a Coronavirus 'Second Wave' that the nation is winning the fight against the virus." Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said that "When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?” “We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”

What could activate the second wave?

May be lifting lockdown restrictions so far. No doubt lockdown has caused severe disruption around the world like destroying jobs, affecting people's health, and taking children out of school but it controlled the virus. Dr. Kucharski said that"the ultimate puzzle is how to maintain control while minimising daily disruption." Nobody is fully or 100% sure how far we can go.

Therefore, measures are being lifted in stages and new methods of controlling coronavirus are being introduced like contact tracing or face coverings. If clusters can be rapidly identified then it is not a major problem, local lockdowns introduced and spread of the virus can be stopped. Otherwise, they may contribute to a second wave.

Let us have a look at what makes a first wave to subside or recede?

In several areas, the virus has infected a huge portion of people which gave them immunity from re-infection and possibly creating herd-immunity. It protects those who have not been infected by curtailing the circulation of the virus. Affected countries of COVID-19 maintained social distancing norms, adopted restrictions on an unprecedented scale so that the virus could not easily spread. 

Now, the question arises how can a virus come back?

- Cases may start rising again via lifting containment measures too quickly. 

- In the influenza case, there is the onset of the cool weather, a factor that may affect the coronavirus too. Or pathogens can mutate.

- According to some researchers, mutation made the virus again unrecognizable to most people's immune systems. 

- Movement of the virus to populations is another important variable that has not been exposed before and also does not have immunity. 

If the second wave arises will it be the same as the first?

At the start of the pandemic, the number of people each infected person passed the virus to on average was 3. That is the virus was spreading fast but now the behaviour of the people is changed now so it is hard to see how spreading the infection ratio will go high again. Dr. Kucharski said that "No country is going to just lift everything and go back to normal." If cases did start to grow again then it is likely to be relatively low. However, the second wave theoretically could still end up bigger than the first because people are now much aware, taking precautions and are still susceptible. 

How can we prevent it?

WHO has recommended some measures like lifting movement restrictions in stages to test the effect of each before moving to greater openness. Some experts say that the only key to keeping the infections low without lockdown everyone is to increase up testing and contact tracing. It is also necessary for the health authorities to find out the infected people, isolate them, and identify their recent contacts so that they can be tested and isolated if required. Also, it is possible that enough people will be exposed to the coronavirus, herd immunity develops and it will stop spreading or vaccine may also be licensed up against it.

The new coronavirus infection so far has been spreading sporadically than flu and it may not follow the same pattern. Therefore, it is difficult to predict, and also it is not clear that to which degree the virus is seasonal, if at all. 

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