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Covid-19 Numbers Explained: The third wave has likely peaked in India; here is why

🔴 On Thursday, 2.51 lakh new Covid-19 cases were detected, well below the 3.47 lakh that were discovered a week earlier, which remains the highest daily count in the third wave so far. The peak of the second wave had been achieved at 4.14 lakh.

Written by Amitabh Sinha , Edited by Explained Desk | Pune |
Updated: January 30, 2022 12:58:54 pm
A healthcare worker with Covid-19 infected patients inside the Covid Care Centre of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) village, in New Delhi. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

The daily national count of Covid-19 cases has been falling for a week now. Active cases have been going down for four days. The weekly positivity rate has remained almost stable for a week.

By all indications, the third wave seems to have already peaked, and it has happened at a level well below the peak of the second wave.

The cases can rise again, but current trends suggest that it is unlikely to go very high.

On Thursday, 2.51 lakh new coronavirus cases were detected, well below the 3.47 lakh that were discovered a week earlier, which remains the highest daily count in the third wave so far.

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Daily Case Count

The peak of the second wave had been achieved at 4.14 lakh.

If the current trends hold, and cases continue to decline, India would have defied predictions of the third wave peak reaching 8 or 10 lakh cases a day. Also, India’s third wave trajectory would be remarkably different from most other badly affected countries, where the peak of the Omicron wave was two to four times higher than their previous peaks.

Of course, many more cases are likely to have gone undetected in India during the current wave compared to the previous two waves, because of the largely asymptomatic nature of infections caused by the Omicron variant.

Also, a large number of people probably never got themselves tested despite showing signs of the disease, because of the extremely low probability of deterioration, and very quick recovery.

But while that could have kept the official case count somewhat low, the fact that the positivity rate is now stabilising indicates that the energy of the third wave might actually be dissipating fast.

The weekly positivity rate rose from less than 1 per cent in the last week of December to a shade below 17 per cent now, but this has remained between 16 and 17 per cent for a week. Test numbers have remained stable, with 17-18 lakh samples being tested every day on average for the last two weeks.

Weekly Positivity Rate

Most of the states are reporting far fewer cases now than they were doing a week ago, as a result of which active cases at the national have begun to come down for the first time in a month.

As on Thursday, there were about 21 lakh active cases in the country. Four days ago, this number was about 22.5 lakh, which has been the highest level during the third wave till now. During the second wave, the active cases number had gone as high as 37 lakh.

Kerala, where the third wave started later than elsewhere in the country, is of course an exception to the trend being seen in many states.

Kerala is back to reporting the maximum number of cases every day, and its daily case count is over 50,000 at present.

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States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh are also not in a distinctive declining phase right now, but the growth of cases has been arrested, and their trajectories seem to be hitting a plateau.

At least 16 states and union territories have seen their active cases decline in the last one week.

Active Cases

The deaths are still on the rise, with the daily count reaching 627 on Thursday.

But this number continues to be skewed because of the inclusion of old, previously uncounted, deaths from Kerala. In any case, the death trend usually lags that of case count by two weeks.

During the second wave, over 4,000 deaths were being reported at the peak.

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