Prediction (18-04-2021) Grim situation of COVID-19’s second wave

Prof. Rajesh Ranjan, IIT Kanpur

Aryan Sharma, Graduate Researcher, IIT Kanpur

Prof. Mahendra Verma, IIT Kanpur

Strong second wave of COVID-19 is creating a havoc in the country.  As on 17th April, the infection count is 2.66 lacs, while the death count is about 1500.  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 SA variants) poses a major health emergency.

We have analyzed the data up to 15th April 2021 and observed dangerous trends. See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350954974_Characterization_of_the_Second_Wave_of_COVID-19_in_India  Our key findings are listed below:

  1. The pandemic has spread intensely across all states, as is evident from the effective reproduction number Rt shown in Figure 1 and Table 1. Major disconcerting issue is Rt being close to 2 in some of the populous states, such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal.
  2. 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 (see Figure 2).
  3. Based on preliminary analysis using the available data and the SIR model, we forecast the second wave to peak in mid-May with the daily infection count exceeding 3.5 lacs.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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