India’s total number of Covid-19 cases has surpassed 24 million this week as the country continues to fight off a devastating second wave of infections that has overwhelmed and overrun its healthcare system.
Government data shows that there were 343,144 new cases reported over a 24-hour period this week, where at least 4,000 people died. This marks the third consecutive day where the death toll surpassed 4,000.
India’s record was 414,188 new cases on May 7th, and so far has been able to stay under that, however, they’ve been surpassing 300,000 cases almost every day. Reports currently suggest that the virus is making its way through rural areas of India where experts believe the healthcare system is under equipped to handle such a surge.
“According to our model, the number of new cases coming every day has already crossed the peak and we are on the way down. India’s number of active cases is also very close to the peak and it could happen in the next few days, after which things are likely to improve,” said Manindra Agrawal, a professor in the computer science and engineering department.
Agrawal co-authored a mathematical model for pandemics called SUTRA (Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive), and Removed Approach) to predict the spread of the coronavirus. “Previously, the model predicted India’s second wave would peak by the third week of April and that daily cases would likely stay around 100,000. April was India’s worst month so far with nearly 7 million cases officially reported, while more than 48,000 people died, but the tally is probably much larger.”
According to the World Health Organization, “several mutant variants, including the B.1.617, which was first detected in India, could partially be responsible for the surge. Mass gatherings and reduced adherence to public health and social measures likely contributed to the acceleration in cases also.”
Agrawal told CNBC that the SUTRA model “had predicted the second wave would have a similar intensity as the first wave and would peak towards the end of April. This is the feedback we gave to the government. While we got the location or the timing more or less right, of the peak, but we didn’t get the intensity right. Nobody could really gauge the intensity of the wave and that took us all by surprise.”
Indian officials are already gearing up for a third wave of infections as the government attempts to step up its massive inoculation program that is meant to increase the production of vaccines.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.