When the Covid-19 third wave will hit its peak in India? A new study by IIT Madras reveals!

Amid the plunging Reproduction Value (R-Value) of Covid-19 in certain cities, which gives hope that the pandemic is nearing its end, a new study done by the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras (IIT-M) has revealed that we can expect a downfall after witnessing the peak of the third wave, that most likely will occur in two weeks from now. The Covid-19 Omicron variant has been playing a vital role in the third wave of the pandemic along with its ancestral virus. 

The preliminary analysis was done by computational modelling by the Department of Mathematics and the Centre for Excellence for Computational Mathematics and Data Science of IIT Madras. The study was done by a team headed by professors Neelesh S Upadhye and S Sundar. As per the study, the peak of the Covid-19 third wave is expected to occur in the next two weeks in India, probably after February 6. Earlier, it was predicted that India would hit the peak between February 1 and 15. 

The study has further highlighted that India's R-value has reduced to 1.57 in the week from January 14-21 while it stood at 2.2 during the preceding week. It was 4 from January 1-6. R-value is the rate of spread of Covid-19 and it indicates the number of people an infected person can spread the disease to. When the value plunges below 1, it would be considered that the pandemic is inching towards the end. As per the data, Chennai's R-value is 1.2 while Delhi has reported 0.98. 

The R-value of Mumbai and Kolkata stands at 0.67 and 0.56 respectively. The PTI has quoted Dr Jayant Jha, the Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics of IIT Madras, saying that the R-value of Mumbai and Kolkata shows that the peak is over and the pandemic is becoming endemic in these two cities. Jha has attributed the plunge of R-value to the latest guidelines of ICMR, which had loosened its measure of contact tracing. 

Speaking to PTI, Jayant Jha said, "The reason for that could be that as per the new ICMR guidelines, they have removed the requirement for contact tracing and therefore, there are fewer infections as compared to earlier." It has been reported that ICMR has issued fresh guidelines in which it has mentioned that the contacts of Covid-19 infected patients do not require mandatory testing unless they are warranted under the grounds of their age and comorbid conditions. 

On the other hand, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has said in its latest bulletin, that the Covid-19 Omicron variant has reached the stage of the community spread in the country as the variant has been rapidly spreading and dominating several metro cities, duo to which some cities are recording an exorbitant rise in fresh cases. 

The bulletin was released on Sunday - January 23, in which the INSACOG has said that while most Omicron cases so far have been asymptomatic or mild, hospitalizations and ICU cases have increased in the current wave and the threat level remains unchanged. It has said, "Omicron is now in the community transmission stage in India and has become dominant in multiple metros, where new cases have been rising exponentially. BA.2 lineage is in a substantial fraction in India and S-gene drop-out based screening is thus likely to give high false negatives." 

It must be noted that S-gene drop-out is a genetic variation like that of Omicron and INSACOG further said, "Further spread of Omicron in India is now expected to be through internal transmission, not foreign travellers, and a revised sampling and sequencing strategy of INSACOG is being worked out to address genomic surveillance objectives in the wake of dynamic changing scenario of virus infection."