Days after the Indian Council of Medical Research said the COVID-19 third wave is inevitable and may likely hit India at the end of August, NITI Aayog has said that the next 100-125 days are critical in the fight against COVID-19. 

NITI Aayog member on health Dr VK Paul told reporters on Friday that the fall in cases after the peak of the second deadly wave has slowed down, which is a warning sign.  

"Fall in cases has slowed down. It's a warning signal. Next 100 to 125 days are critical for fight against COVID in India," he said.

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Dr VK Paul added that the country is already preparing for the third wave. 

"We are moving towards a set target to administer 50 crore doses before July. We are on the path to achieving it. The government has ordered 66 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin. Additionally, 22 crore doses will go to the private sector," he said.

During the second wave, India had recorded over 400,000 daily infections. The country is witnessing a gradual drop in cases. On Saturday, India recorded 38,079 new cases of COVID-19 and 560 death. The five states that have registered maximum cases are Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.

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Several states have eased lockdown restrictions but are preparing for the third wave, which the experts believe will not be as deadly as the second wave. 

"There would be a nationwide third wave but that does not mean that it would be as high or as intense as the second wave," Dr Samiran Panda, the head of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told NDTV.

Meanwhile, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) showed that police personnel who have been administered both doses of vaccine avoided the risk of death due to the virus. 

"Two doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to high-risk police personnel were successful in preventing 95 per cent deaths due to coronavirus in the Delta variant-driven second wave,. Incidence of COVID-19 deaths per 1,000 was 1.17 among unvaccinated, 0.21 among partially vaccinated and 0.06 in fully vaccinated," the study said.