India Covid crisis: When will the peak be?

Study says deaths would be dramatically reduced if everyone wears a mask

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 28 April 2021 13:49
<p>A relative of a person who died of Covid-19 reacts at a crematorium in Jammu, India</p>

A relative of a person who died of Covid-19 reacts at a crematorium in Jammu, India

With India’s coronavirus situation worsening by the day and funeral pyres burning day and night, scientists from the Indian Institutes of Technology have issued a warning: the worst is yet to come.

As per their projections, active Covid-19 cases in the country may peak at 3,800,000  to 4,800,000 between 14-18 May. The daily new infections could be as high as 440,000 from 4-8 May.

The scientists applied a mathematical model to predict that active cases across the country would most likely go up by over a million by mid-May.

In India, the number of Covid-19 deaths has surpassed 200,000 and for the last seven days, more than 300,000 patients were infected with the virus each day.

Health infrastructure has crumbled across the country with patients being turned away for want of beds, ventilators and oxygen cylinders.

In crematoriums and graveyards, bodies are piling up by the hour and there is a dearth of space for the number of dead turning up. In fact, in Delhi, several makeshift pyres have been arranged to cater to the increasing number of dead bodies turning up.

Meanwhile,  last week the researchers had predicted that the pandemic may peak between 11-15 May with 3,300,000 to 3,500,000 total active cases and decline steeply by the end of May. Earlier this month, their model had projected that the active cases in India would peak by 15 April, but this did not come to pass.

Maninder Agrawal, professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT-Kanpur, told the media: “This time, I have also computed minimum and maximum for predicted values and posted it. I am reasonably confident that the actual values will be within the minimum and maximum values mentioned.”

He made it clear that it is not possible to predict the final values. He tweeted: “I have now computed a range of values for peak value and timing and the final numbers should be within this range.”

Explaining the change in predictions, Mr Agrawal said: “The primary reason is that there is a continuous slow drift in parameter values of current phase for India. This makes the guess of the right values difficult. That is causing a slow change in predictions.”

Meanwhile, other independent projections by Gautam Menon, a physics professor at Ashoka University in India and his team indicate that the peak of the ongoing second wave would be around mid-April to mid-May.

A few days ago, a study by the University of Washington warned that daily Covid-19 deaths in India could peak at over 5,000 by mid-May.

The study also mentions that if everyone wore a mask, the number of deaths could easily be reduced by at least 79,000. The study says: “By 1 August, we project that 82,600 lives will be saved by the projected vaccine rollout.”

In the study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, the scientists claim that the second wave is going to get worse by mid-May and that the nationwide vaccination drive necessary to help combat the deadly second Covid wave across the country.

The study predicts that India’s Covid-19 deaths will “peak at 5,600 on 10 May of this year.” It said that with an additional 329,000 deaths projected between 12 April and 1 August, the cumulative death toll could rise up to 665,000 by the end of July.

In another study, scientists claimed that India might see at least 800,000 to 1,000,000 daily new cases.

Dr Bhramar Mukherjee, a US-based bioscientist and epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and his team has come with a “COV-IND-19 study group” which predicts that daily Covid deaths will peak around 4,500 in the second half of May.

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