India’s coronavirus cases, numbers: Tuesday was the third straight day that detection of new cases of coronavirus infections remained within 30,000. Not since the middle of July, when India’s daily tally was still to touch 30,000, has this happened. Incidentally, the total number of infections in the country at that time were yet to cross one million. Now, that number is poised to reach ten million in a couple of days.
If current trends continue, by the end of this month, not more than 20,000 cases are likely to get detected every day.
“That is what our mathematical model is predicting. The numbers being predicted by the model right now are in close alignment with what is being reported every day. And, going further, the model shows that the daily detection of new cases should come down to about 20,000 by the end of December,” said Manindra Agarwal, a professor at IIT Kanpur, who was part of a government-appointed team that developed a mathematical model to map the trajectory of the disease in India.
This model was the first one to predict, in late October, that the disease in India had already peaked, and that the downhill journey had begun. At that time, the daily new detections had already fallen between 50,000 and 60,000, after having scaled the peak of about 98,000 in the middle of October. The numbers have continued to fall steadily after that as well.
“This is only a mathematical model. It takes in data coming in from various states to predict future pathways based on certain assumptions. As with any other mathematical model, this too has its limitations. For example, it cannot tell us the reason why the decline might be happening. But over the last few months, the predictions of this model have been in remarkable agreement with the ground realities, even during the festival season, or the elections in Bihar, when we would intuitively expect the infections to spread very fast. This gives us the confidence to believe in the trajectory being predicted by the model for the end of this month as well,” Agarwal said.
At the time of announcing the results of the model in October, the committee had said that the disease was likely to run its course in India by the end of February next year.
But Shahid Jameel, a virologist and director of Trivedi School of Biosciences at the Ashoka University, says that would be too optimistic.
“Even if we believe that the downhill journey is now irreversible, it will take some time before the epidemic is over. The rate of decline is always slower than the rate of ascent. Already, you would notice that we have been spending much longer time in the 30,000s and 40,000s (cases a day) while coming down, than we had spent while going up. And even if we believe that the decline itself is irreversible, there would be small surges on the way, like the one we had towards the end of November,” Jameel said.
“The important thing is, and I never get tired of repeating this, is that the disease is not yet over. And that, we must not abandon taking precautions. This is because of several reasons. Even if we say that a vast majority of population has already been infected, and thus some community level protection has kicked in, something for which we have no evidence right now, we still don’t know how long the immunity gained from natural infection lasts. The same would apply in the case of vaccinations also. We don’t know how long the immunity gained from vaccines would last. Also, the best vaccines are only 95 per cent effective, and that is only in controlled testing conditions. In real life situations, the effectiveness would be slightly low. It is therefore in our own interests to continue wearing masks and follow the usual rules of physical distancing,” he said.
Out of the nearly ten million people who have been infected with the virus till now, just about 3.3 lakh are currently sick. The active cases were previously at this level in the first half of July when less than one million total infections had been recorded.
Almost every state has been reporting a steady drop in active cases. Only a few smaller states have reported a marginal rise in active cases in the last one week. Even Kerala, which continues to report more than 5,000 new cases a day, has been seeing a decline in its active cases.
The number of deaths have also been coming down. For four consecutive days now, less than 400 deaths have been reported from across the country. At its peak, Maharashtra alone used to report more than 500 deaths a day. 📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram
Andhra Pradesh, which at one time had been finding more than 10,000 new cases a day, has seen its daily numbers come down to below 1,000 for several days now. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which had also been in a situation similar to that of Andhra Pradesh, are now reporting between 1,000 and 1,500 cases a day. Delhi, which has experienced three different periods of surge in numbers, is also in a declining phase now.
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