Home / News / India /  Second wave could peak in May, say scientists

NEW DELHI: The number of active covid-19 cases in India during the second wave is expected to peak in May. The daily infection count is expected to exceed 3.5 lakh cases, according to a mathematical model developed by a team of scientists from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.

The estimates come against the backdrop of daily covid-19 cases nearing 3 lakh on Wednesday. The IIT scientists have also predicted that the case fatality rate which has been low in India, will rise as the infection reaches rural areas of Bihar, UP and West Bengal; that have inadequate health infrastructure. This follows the super-spreader events like political rallies and the Kumbh Mela.

Based on preliminary analysis using the available data and the susceptible-infected-removed or SIR model, the scientists have forecasted the second wave to peak in mid-May with the daily infection count exceeding 3.5 lakh. An SIR model is an epidemiological model that computes the theoretical number of people infected with a contagious illness in a closed population over time.

“The current case fatality rate (CFR) for the country is approximately 1.2%. However, with the dramatic increase in the infection count, the healthcare is going to be overstretched and therefore can cause an increase in CFR," said Mahendra K. Verma, professor, department of physics, IIT Kanpur.

“Data shows that the second wave has reached the rural area. This could cause devastation considering poor healthcare infrastructure in these regions. The above observations suggest that the flattening of the second wave requires strong administrative intervention and people’s participation," Verma said.

The pandemic has spread intensely across all states, the study said, is evident from the effective reproduction number R0. R0 is the number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual. This means R0 is a measure of virus transmission, or the number of persons each infected person will infect on an average. “Major disconcerting issue is Rt being close to 2 in some of the populous states, such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. The exponential growth rate for the second wave is more than double of the first wave. This is the reason for dramatic increase in numbers. The alarming issue is that we are on the rapid growth phase for the last four weeks," said Verma.

According to Union health ministry data, 2,95,041 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours. The 10 states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan reported 76.32% of the new cases. Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 62,097, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 29,574 cases, and Delhi which reported 28,395 new cases, the government said. India’s total active caseload has reached 21,57,538. It now comprises 13.82% of the country's total positive cases. A net incline of 1,25,561 cases recorded from the total active caseload in the last 24 hours.

Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala cumulatively account for 60.86% of India’s total active cases, shows Union health ministry data. Over 2,023 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Ten states account for 82.6% of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (519), followed by Delhi with 277 daily deaths.

The government has already started vaccinating its population against covid-19. As on Wednesday, the cumulative number of covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 13 crore as part of the nationwide covid-19 vaccination drive.

“Although the vaccination drive is expanded gradually to include all age groups, the spread of the highly infectious new mutant of the pathogen (B.1.617 lineage, UK and South African variants) poses a major health emergency. We have analyzed the data up to 15 April 2021 and observed dangerous trends," said Verma.

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