Should We Be Worried About a Second Wave?

Should We Be Worried About a Second Wave? | Dr. Ali Ghahary

British Columbians have worked incredibly hard to continue to flatten the COVID-19 curve (and for that, we should all be proud), with the new number of daily reported cases remaining relatively low – in addition to the number of hospitalizations (including those in ICU) on the decline. While this is certainly good news for our province’s fight against this global pandemic, we also need to remember that just because our numbers are lower compared to other provinces and places in the world (such as the United States), that this isn’t a time to suddenly become passive and think that the easing of certain restrictions means that we can now go back to life as we knew it – because we cannot. Reverting back to things the way they were before COVID-19 could set us back tremendously and have detrimental effects.

COVID-19 very much remains a part of our communities and is still a highly contagious virus that can be easily passed on from person to person – even if asymptomatic. Thus, we need to continue to be vigilant and follow the guidelines set forth by our local health officials – such as washing your hands, wearing a mask when out in public, working remote if possible, and staying home when you’re sick. These are little things that can go a long way, and by doing your part you are helping to prevent the spread of the virus and protecting not just yourself, but your friends, family, co-workers and other acquaintances.

Is a Second Wave Likely? If So, When?

As mentioned, COVID-19 still remains and could last for quite some time. There has also been talk from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, that a second wave was also a strong possibility – though when and how that second wave happens depends on a few different circumstances.

For example, if COVID-19 were to behave similar to 2009’s H1N1, things could begin to calm down during the summer with a second wave potentially hitting during the fall or winter months (possibly peaking around October or November), as second waves usually occur after there has been a sustained period where there have been little to no new infections. We’ve also seen past infection disease pandemics, such as 1918’s influenza pandemic, come in multiple waves (three.) However, because there is still so much to be learned about COVID-19, when we will see it fully start to calm down and exactly when we can expect a second wave remains to be seen.

On the contrary, if we are not able to get the virus under control and if we don’t continue to follow physical distancing recommendations, we could see a continuation of the virus as opposed to a new/second wave of it.

Will a Second Wave Be Worse Than the First?

Just like we couldn’t predict COVID-19 until we were dealing with it head on because it was so unpredictable, we likely cannot predict how a second wave would act. Generally speaking, places where waves of different viruses were considered smaller tended to have larger reported second waves – although how it affects individuals depends on the measures taken by local health officials and how well residents of those areas have abided by the rules and recommendations put forth by them.

A second wave also doesn’t mean that everywhere will experience the virus in the same way. Certain areas could face second waves or hot spots of the virus, while other places may not. The most important thing, however, is that we are as well-prepared as we possibly can be.