The Third Wave of COVID-19: a new perspective to the pandemic?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Natan Viana Medeiros and Ms. Yasmin Lima Nogueira, two 1st-year medical student at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF) in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The coronavirus disease is an infectious illness caused by a recently discovered virus: the SARS-CoV-2, or simply coronavirus, that rapidly spreaded and created a global pandemic. So far, it has caused numerous human losses and political crises all around the world. Fundamentally, since 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has been divided in waves: from the first wave, to the third one, until now.

The First Wave is the beginning of the pandemic. It represents a lot of cases and a high peak of transmission. With government measures, such as social distancing and quarantine, the number of cases tend to decrease, leading the population to a state of relaxation, induced by a false feeling of safety. That usually causes the resumption of economic and social activities, which can lead to The Second Wave. The Second Wave is related to a slight rise in cases, normally related to failure to obtain general immunity followed by pharmacologic interventions such as vaccines.

Besides the increase of COVID-19 cases over again, a Third Wave means that the Health Care System is strongly stressed, beyond the point that non-covid diseases and side effects of the coronavirus are indirectly neglected and the demand for services is no longer distributed. That reaffirms even more the Health Care System stress, since it involves other acute conditions and chronic diseases, that are now at greater risk, such as heart and respiratory diseases, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, mental illness, among others, causing avoidable deaths.

Also, it has been proven that the contamination by Sars-CoV-2 can facilitate the development of some side effects or other serious conditions, like neuronal injury, ischaemia, hypoxia and even Parkinson disease. In summary, the COVID-19 illness can produce cognitive and functional decline that also deserves attention from the health system, along with all other conditions that remained underestimated by the same system during this time.

That said, it is possible to deduce that the overload of the health system is being intensified, once the present government measures are not evolving along with the significant amount of new information about the virus, how it spreads and its contamination. Obviously, the knowledge about the virus has grown over time, so it is plausible to say that new data require new measures, or at least, a new discussion.

Thereby, the lessons learned in the past should be used to build or update the government, population and Health Care System actions, in order to improve the management of demand and offer of services, so as to contemplate the recent context brought by The Third Wave, that could be minimized, redistributed and elucidated long-term.

References

Baker, Hanan A et al. “The ‘third wave’: impending cognitive and functional decline in COVID-19 survivors.” British journal of anaesthesia vol. 126,1 (2021): 44-47. doi:10.1016/j.bja.2020.09.045

Beauchamp, Leah C et al. “Parkinsonism as a Third Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic?.” Journal of Parkinson’s disease vol. 10,4 (2020): 1343-1353. doi:10.3233/JPD-202211

MENDES, EUGÊNIO VILAÇA. “O lado oculto de uma pandemia: a terceira onda da Covid-19 ou o paciente invisível.” (2020).

About the authora

Natan Viana Medeiros is a 1st-year medical student at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF) in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. He is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations of Brazil (IFMSA-Brazil). Yasmin Lima Nogueira is a 1st-year medical student at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF) in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. She is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations of Brazil (IFMSA-Brazil).

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