The IIT researchers have constructed a universal epidemic curve for covid-19 using the epidemic curves for eight nations –France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany
As the number of covid-19 cases in India crossed the milestone of 8 million on Thursday, yet another mathematical model by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has projected the caseload reaching 14.57 million by January 2021. The projection comes at a time when the government is already anticipating a surge in coronavirus cases in coming months amidst festive season and winters settling in.
The IIT researchers have constructed a universal epidemic curve for covid-19 using the epidemic curves for eight nations –France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany– that have reached saturation for the first phase. “For January 1, 2021, our prediction for the total infection count is approximately 14.57 million, and that for daily count is 81,000,” said Mahendra Kumar Verma, professor of physics at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.
“We have taken the India’s epidemic curve up to September 22, 2020 and overlap it with the universal curve. The constructed curve is used to forecast epidemic evolution up to January 1, 2021. Our model predicts that the daily cases for India’s covid-19 epidemic are falling because India is in a linear regime,” he said. Verma however cautioned that the curve may deviate if people do not follow the covid-19 appropriate behaviour.
India’s supermodel commissioned by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) predicted that India may have reached herd immunity with around 38 crores of the population either infected or having antibodies. Also, the model predicted the infection counts by 2021 to be at 10.6 million.
The findings of the model is in conjunction with the government open statement that five states are witnessing a surge in covid-19 cases for last few weeks due to festivities and gathering post unlock 5 re opening. While, in last few weeks the daily case count decreased to 36,000 cases, India recorded at least 49,881 new confirmed cases in last 24 hours with 517 case fatalities. The fresh infections are now hovering in more than 40,000 range for few days.
Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Union Health Ministry on Thursday reviewed the status of covid-19 in the States/UT of West Bengal, Kerala and Delhi and their public health response measures in a meeting held through Video Conferencing. Delhi has 29,378 active cases as of today recording 5,673 new cases yesterday. There has been nearly 46% increase in the new cases over the past four weeks, and the positivity rate over the past four weeks has escalated by nearly 9%. The rising cases were attributed by the Delhi team to social gatherings during the festivities, the deteriorating air quality, increasing incidences of respiratory disorders, and clusters of positive cases at work places.
Similarly, West Bengal has 37,111 active cases as of today with 3,924 new cases in the last 24 hours. The average daily cases have recorded 23% increase over last four weeks. There is 1% increase in the positivity rate over the last four weeks. The cases in Kerala are also showing a rising trend after celebrations of festivals like Onam. Total active cases are 93,369 as on date. The average daily cases have recorded 11% increase over the last four weeks. The number of new cases in last 14 days is 98,778. In the last 24 hours, Kerala has registered the maximum number of infections with 8,790 cases.
The world is pinning hope on a vaccine to prevent covid-19. More so, the Serum Institute of India (SII) involved in development and manufacture of a covid-19 vaccine candidate from Oxford University has indicated the vaccine candidate, named Covishield in India could be ready as early as December. The scenario may look different once a vaccine is available, though public health experts hold that the disease situation continues to evolve in India. “The average covid-19 numbers mask the differences between States. We may be missing cases. As the epidemic makes inroads into smaller cities and towns on way to rural areas, getting the correct epidemiological picture will be challenging,” said Lalit Kant, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Kant said that the healthcare facilities are unlikely to be optimally staffed and equipped to deal with serious cases. Testing infrastructure may be scanty. In the country the proportion of rapid tests being done is increasing, and not all persons with symptoms but rapid test negative are being tested with RT-PCR. “We are still not testing enough and we are testing mainly high-risk groups,” he said.
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