The second wave of COVID-19 witnessed a surge in the number of kids infected by the virus. Kids who were until then being considered as silent carriers were equally prone to the virus this time and showed varied symptoms. This stirred a lot of questions among parents regarding the third wave.
Ziqitza Limited has gone through the data which says almost 90 percent of COVID-19 infection cases reported in the second wave of coronavirus, either kid had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. This is due to the lesser expression of specific receptors to which this infectious virus binds to enter the body and immune system. This reduces the risk of developing a moderate or severe infection in kids. Indeed, kids are equally at risk of developing an infection, but the risk of severe infection is unlikely. Children are not immune from the infection, but the impact is minimal. Out of all the COVID-19 cases, only 3 to 4 percent of the total number of kids were hospitalised in the second wave.
Why is there no need to panic?
The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) is an independent body dedicated to the health and well-being of children. It’s recognized by the Government of India and publishes several journals and research papers on various topics regarding the health and ailments of minors.
The IAP has been studying the pandemic closely since early 2020, with the aim of understanding the risk and mitigation of Covid-19 infection in minors, and has made many observations about the expected third wave.
The IAP has categorically stated that while children may be affected in the third wave as projected, the severity or fatality risk is much less than that of adults. Most cases will present themselves as mild, asymptomatic infections, or moderate, symptomatic infections. With standard medication, the condition can be managed. Very few patients will require hospitalizations, and the number of fatalities would only be a tiny fraction of that for adults who have succumbed to the Infection since early 2020.
Dr Datar, Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd explains in layman terms, the virus will find very little support or encouragement from the body of minors compared to that of adults. This does not imply that children have a better immune system than adults. Not necessarily. This only refers to how the immune systems of minors have reacted biochemically to the virus, so far since the start of the pandemic.
Why should you be prepared?
It does not mean that there is nothing to worry about and children can live perfectly normal lives, like what existed before the pandemic? Far from it! There are 2 reasons for this with Ziqitza Healthcare has listed.
- The Covid-19 virus is mutating at a very high rate in recent months compared to 2020. This explains the severity of the 2nd wave, and hence the possibility of a 3rd wave. Very little is known about what kind of mutants will emerge in the coming months, how deadly they will be, and how they would affect adults and children. Not being aware of this and becoming complacent can be dangerous. We may be taken by surprise with many children showing severe infection.
- Viral load refers to the quantum – both absolute numbers and concentration in a particular volume of air – of any virus and in this case the Covid-19 virus. As we have seen since March 2020, whenever people have exercised caution and shown Covid-appropriate behavior, the infection rates have been lesser and whenever they have been callous or complacent, the infection rates have also shot up. It also explains the severity of the current 2nd wave. Caution and Covid-appropriate behavior reduce the viral load significantly. This goes a long way in reducing the risk of Covid-19 infections in adults and minors alike. However, if one becomes complacent and the viral loads increase, with newer mutations, one can never say how the immune systems of minors will react. Certain viral loads and certain mutants may trigger wide-scale and/or severe infections in minors. This only implies that we cannot afford to be complacent. We need to prepare ourselves and our minors in order to prevent Covid-19 infections in the days ahead.
How to be prepared?
ZHL Rajasthan and Ziqitza Rajasthan have suggested adults prepare minors for the 3rd wave. Reducing the risk of infection in them is no different from how we would do this for adults. As we have been hearing from day 1 of the pandemic, this involves 2 major changes to our lifestyle.
- Covid appropriate behavior: This will remain a constant whether one is an adult or minor, has received 1 or 2 shots of any vaccine, whether one has been infected in the past or not, one is showing symptoms or not. This is the same points to follow i.wearing a mask outside the home, social distancing, and washing hands as often as possible.
- Building immunity: Immunity is important for anybody, adult or minor, to fight any virus, bacteria, or health hazard. This includes
- Eating a healthy diet: Avoid junk food, refined foods, and excessive sugar consumption
- Exercising regularly: Since gyms are closed, you can jog or run closer home and do free-hand exercises at home
- Ensure a healthy lifestyle: Assuming minors are already doing this – limit smoking and alcohol consumption
- De-stress: Lockdown fatigue combined with the lack of vaccination and fear of the 3rd wave can increase your stress. This can have other health consequences. De-stress with calisthenics, yoga, meditation, and indulging in a hobby of your choice.
Experts at Ziqitza say when the 3rd wave will hit us exactly, and how much damage it will do to adults or minors is not clear at this point in time. In such a scenario, caution and common sense are our best weapons in the fight against Covid-19. Do not be complacent but at the same time, do not allow panic-mongers to affect you. Stay sensible and we can overcome the 3rd wave better than the earlier ones.