The Indian researchers have predicted that the country is likely to experience a surge in Covid-19 cases building into a new, though smaller virus wave that may peak in October.
India will witness a worsening of its Covid-19 outbreak as soon as this month, with the next wave peaking with a minimum of 100,000 infections a day or nearly 150,000 at the maximum, as estimated by the researchers led by Mathukumalli Vidyasagar and Manindra Agrawal at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad and Kanpur respectively.
Vidyasagar said that the country’s worst-hit states like Kerala and Maharashtra could skew the picture. The upcoming third wave may be far smaller than the second wave that reached a record of 4lakh plus daily cases and thereafter declined sharply. However, the forecast still emphasizes the need for the country to ramp up its vaccination campaign, deploy surveillance methods to catch emerging hotspots and stay observant through genome sequencing given the potential for new variants to emerge.
In October last year, India has first identified the delta strain that has caused the prolonged outbreaks across the world. The experts believe that people becoming complacent and resuming social and business activity is concerning amid the waning infection. During the first outbreak, the country had suffered less damage, however, with the quick resumption of local travel and large-scale festival, it had a devastating second wave that killed as many as 5 million people.
The second wave in March has also led to high levels of natural immunity in the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people. The Indian Council of Medical Research serosurvey has found that two-thirds of Indians above the age of six had been exposed to the coronavirus.
Over the past few days, the southern state of Kerala has been registering roughly half of the new Covid cases, becoming potentially the next hotspot in the country. Paul Kattuman, professor in the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, who has developed a Covid-19 tracker for India, has said that the Covid daily cases have grown persistently through July in Kerala and a few smaller north-eastern states. However, a few states also saw short-lived flare-ups in July which declined relatively quickly, putting the country overall in a steady-state, for now, he said.
Kattuman said that if infection begins to increase in a few large states, the present balance will tip, and cases are likely to begin growing again in the country as a whole. The country might expect to see a slow burn for a duration that can be expected to last till vaccination coverage is sufficiently high to induce herd immunity, he added.
According to Bloomberg, India India has so far administered 470.3 million vaccine doses, but only 7.6% of the population is fully vaccinated. This also adds up to concerns that the country may not be fully geared for the next wave with such slow uptake. However, the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured that it is now better prepared for further outbreaks and that future waves will not have the same impact on the economy as before.