Third Wave of Covid-19 – Inevitable or not?

India has just battled out its worst pandemic situation ever. The first two waves did significant damage all over the world, including India. We have lost so many fellow Indians. Our economy is getting weaker and weaker. Unemployment is on the rise. However, the main question is, even after two massive outbreaks of Covid-19 are we aware of the control measures of this virus yet.

After a disastrous second wave, nobody wants another wave of Covid-19 anytime in the country. However, health officials, including the Prime Minister have warned against a possible third wave in the near future. The positive news was that vaccination is going on in full swing, and it will not be long before all citizens of India are vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. However, the third wave is predicted to reach India well before that. Scientists say that even 70% vaccination can reduce the severity of a third wave to a great extent.

Increasing the duration of the gap between two doses of Covishield is also another factor of slow vaccination rates in India. Covishield was given at an interval of 12 to 16 weeks between two doses as against the previous 8-week gap. Covishield production and distribution have also slowed down considerably as the second wave is retreating from the country. A positive note here is that some single-dose vaccines like Johnson and Johnson, or Sputnik Light are found to be quite effective against Covid-19. Launching single-dose vaccines will increase the vaccination rate to a great extent.

The main question is, when will the third wave come. Scientists differ in their opinions, but most of them suggest that some time is required after the waning of the second wave after which they will get a clear idea. Some scientists say that the third wave has already arrived in the country in July. A few others think the second wave is yet to abate fully from the country and the third wave may arrive 6-8 weeks after the second wave abates. Many predictions point out that if the Government does not tighten its grip on people movement and tourism, as it was before the second wave, the third wave is likely to arrive sooner than expected, and may even take a violent turn. A number of researchers also say that the third wave may arrive by mid-August. However, most studies agree that the severity of the third wave is at our hands, how well we can shield ourselves from infected persons.

Despite all precautions, a section of scientists says that a third wave is inevitable and it may hit India sooner than expected. As nationwide lockdown eases a bit in July, a huge crowd has flocked to the hill stations and beaches. Such a massive crowd of non-local people in tourist places may turn into a Kumbha Mela like super-spreader. Tourist destinations like Lakshadweep and Kerala are seeing an increasing trend in the Covid-19 case count. Most tourist destinations have asked for a negative Covid-19 report or vaccination. Maintaining Covid-19 protocols as well as social distancing is the key to stay safe from getting infected by the deadly virus.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Assam Earthquake 2021 Analysis

On 28th April 2021, a moderately severe earthquake hit Assam and parts of north-east India. The 6.4 magnitude Earthquake had epicentre at Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district of Assam, and the focal point was 17 metres below ground level. The epicentre is located just 80 km northeast of Guwahati, the largest city in north-east India. The area falls under Seismic hazard zone V, which most prone to massive Earthquakes.

The Himalayan Frontal Thrust, or the Main Frontal Thrust, is a major geological fault along the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plate boundaries. Many parts of Assam, including Sonitpur, falls near the area of Himalayan Frontal Thrust and is thus prone to significant Earthquakes. The 8.6 magnitude Assam earthquake of 1950 severely damaged the whole state and the neighbouring states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya. This time, as the earthquake’s magnitude was not that severe, many areas, including Guwahati, felt tremors but were not severely damaged.

The earthquake occurred specifically at Kopili fault, a 300 km long part of Himalayan Frontal Thrust stretching from Bhutan to Mayanmar following the foothills of the Himalayas. The Kopili fault is one of the most seismically unstable faults that have produced earthquakes since prehistoric times. The Kopili fault has been quiet for some time, some time and the earthquake released much of the stress building up in the crust. That is the reason for the severity of the quake. The last major earthquake in the region was of 6.0 magnitude on 29th July 1960.

According to the latest reports, two died of shock and at least 10 others sustained injuries in the earthquake. Several buildings and roads in the western part of Assam are damaged. The nearby Arunachal Pradesh districts also felt the tremors where two people are injured after their house collapsed. There was also a report of a minor landslide in West Kameng district induced by the quake, that blocked a vital road in the area.

The earthquake’s timing and duration were the primary cause that it averted any significant damage. The earthquake occurred early in the morning and for a short duration of fewer than 30 seconds. Had the tremor occurred midday, there might have been damages to workers working in high rise buildings and offices. Also, an earthquake persisting for more than 30 seconds will bring more damage to the facilities. However, there were six aftershocks ranging between 3.2 to 4.7 magnitude, which has not caused any significant destruction. Let us hope that no more damaging aftershocks occur amid the pandemic situation in India.

Written by – Himadri Paul