A lax approach by people on maintaining Covid-related precautions, and mutant strains of the virus have been behind the second wave of infections, All India Institute of Medical Sciences chief Randeep Guleria said on Sunday, NDTV reported.

In an interview to the news channel, Guleria said that the second wave could be as severe as the previous one if protocols were not followed. He warned that the cases could spread even more rapidly if steps like wearing masks and contact-tracing were not followed, NDTV reported.

“People feel that the pandemic is over because vaccines are here, so they fail to wear masks,” Guleria told NDTV. “We see large crowds gathering again without masks. Many of these crowded events have become super spreading events.”

The AIIMS chief also flagged failure to abide by the basic principle of “testing, tracking and isolation”, as compared to the situation six months ago, adding that some of the variants of the virus were more infectious. Guleria said that the number of cases and mortality could both rise in the second wave.

He added that vaccine efficacy was seen in some studies to fall by 10-20% while countering the South African variant of the virus, NDTV reported. “As we go along with vaccinations, other variants may appear,” Guleria said. “We will have to be ready to tweak the vaccines...it is not a cause of concern since we do not have enough data. But we need to be vigilant.”

He said there might be some variants of the virus that developed in India too and that it would be a cause of concern if they result in more severe or a higher number of infections.

The doctor said that night curfews and weekend lockdowns might not be enough to stop the chain of transmission, and that development of containment zones, aggressive testing and quarantining needs to implemented.

Several states are witnessing a second wave of cases, leading to fresh restrictions and guidelines. On Sunday, India recorded 43,846 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the country’s tally to 1,15,99,130. This was the highest one-day jump in new cases since November 26. With 197 deaths, also the highest in 97 days, the toll climbed to 1,59,755.