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Third wave may peak in Delhi, Mumbai mid-Jan: Sutra model scientist

India News

The peak of the ongoing third wave in the country could go as high as 8 lakh cases in a day — almost twice the peak of the second wave — but the sharp rise in major cities like Mumbai or Delhi could be arrested very soon, perhaps by the middle of this month, said IIT-Kanpur professor and mathematician Manindra Agrawal.

He said his projection is based on current calculation, which is preliminary as data for the entire country is still not in.

“The third wave (for the country) is expected to peak somewhere in the beginning of next month or even slightly earlier. As of now, for an estimate, we predict a wide range between four to eight lakh cases a day. The all-India curve has just started to rise. It will take another month’s time to come down. By middle of March, the third wave of the pandemic should be more or less over in India,” Agrawal said.

Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange Friday (a detailed transcript will be published Monday), Agrawal, who, along with other researchers, runs the SUTRA computer model that tracks the Covid-19 curve in the country, said that while elections do contribute to a surge, they are just one of the factors behind the case count.

“It is not that election rallies do not contribute to a surge in cases. They definitely do,” Agrawal said. “But there are a large number of reasons for the rise of cases in any state, election rallies being just one of them. What we noticed, to our surprise, is that if we take the elections out of the equation, the overall situation of the state did not change much.”

His remarks assume significance given the election notification for the five states today that put a freeze on roadshow and physical rallies until January 15.

Agrawal said his remarks on the impact of elections was based on his analysis last year on the Covid situation in 16 states, five of which had gone to elections just ahead of the second wave.

“For each of these states, we computed the parameters which governed the trajectory of their second wave. There were five parameters which we took into account and which basically determined how fast the pandemic spread in each of these states. We had grouped them into two: five states that went to elections and 11 that didn’t. We computed to see if there is a difference in these two groups. We ran proper statistical experiments. And we found that, statistically, there was no difference between the two groups (of states). Which means or suggests that elections did not play a major role in the spread of the pandemic in the five states,” Agrawal said.

“We have not published the findings of our study yet, but we do intend to publish it sometime,” he said.

Asked about the current surge, he said: “It is difficult to make projections when the parameters are changing as fast as they currently are. But one thing I can say with relative certainty is that for Mumbai, the third wave is likely to peak somewhere around the middle of this month. So that is not very far away. Same seems to be the case with Delhi. For Kolkata, there is a larger uncertainty, but that city too seems to be peaking around the same time.”

Agrawal said the peak for the country as a whole would come sometime in February.

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