Second wave of COVID-19 in India

Prof. Rajesh Ranjan, IIT Kanpur

Prof. Mahendra Verma, IIT Kanpur

India is overwhelmed by the second wave with more than 37 lacs active cases.  Because of over-stretched healthcare systems, the case fatality rate (CFR) has also increased from about 0.7% in February to about 1%.  However, it is still lower than several other countries including Brazil, Russia, and France. We have used Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) model along with a data-driven decay rate to predict the future course of the pandemic.

Our observations are as given below. Our daily-case forecasts using a model are shown as red curves in the figures.  The shaded regions are the uncertainties in the predictions.

  1. The model suggests that India is hovering around the peak, however, the peak caseload of about 4 lacs is limited by the daily testing capacity. Due to a very high test positivity rate (TPR) of approximately 22%, it is expected that India will see a near plateau for around a week instead of a sharp peak. In addition, the subsequent decay will also be slow (Figure 1).
  2. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, and Chattishgarh are exhibiting clear signs of decline indicating that lockdown has an impact in arresting the spread (Figure 2). The model suggests that in recent times, daily cases have reached their peaks in Kerala, Haryana, Rajasthan, Telangana, Bihar, and Jharkhand, but there are strong fluctuations in the data (Figure 3). However, considering the high infectiousness of the virus, strict vigilance is a must even in regions exhibiting decline. We should not make the same mistake as in the near past.
  3. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are expected to peak soon, while Tamilnadu may peak in the third week of May (Figure 4). Uttarakhand, Punjab, West Bengal, Odisha, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Goa, J&K are still in the growth phase and may take a couple of more weeks to the peak. We believe that strong measures are needed in these states to suppress explosive growth.
  4. Virus spread is now moving from North India to Eastern and Northeast states. West Bengal, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur, and Sikkim are behind other states in terms of overall spread and saturation. Therefore, it is possible to curb the growth now through strong intervention before the situation becomes worse.
  5. Goa has the highest TPR of about 50% suggesting a very high spread of the virus. Uttarakhand, Karnataka, West Bengal, Kerala, and Haryana too have a very high TPR of approximately 30%. Testing capacity needs to be ramped in these states while continuing interventions to effectively contain the spread of the epidemic.
  6. Among the most impacted states, Kerala has the lowest CFR of just about 0.14% suggesting quality health infrastructure. Jharkhand (2.2%), Punjab (2%) and Delhi (1.7%) have very high CFR, which is a cause of concern.

Research Link: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.04.17.21255665v2

Second Covid-19 wave of India

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