Due to the ongoing vaccination programs and the fairly successful home-produced Covaxin, many Indians experienced an increased optimism about the decreasing rate of Covid-19 infections as latest as mid- February. However, the daily cases of Covid-19 infections which remained a total of 10,000 on February 22 noticed a rapid spike. The daily new cases of Covid-19 reached a total of 93,000 on March 3.
Last year, using the mathematical approach called Sutra, scientists had predicted that the infections would spike in August, rise in September, reduce by February, and ultimately, decline by May. However, the predictions have been far from accurate. Using the same model, Manindra Agrawal, a scientist from IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) has predicted the Covid-19 trajectory of the current spike and mentioned that the cases of daily new infections are likely to peak in mid-April.
In an interview with news agency PTI (Press Trust of India), Agrawal stated, “For the last several days, we have found that there is a reasonable chance that the cases in India could peak sometime between 15-20 April. It is a sharp slope, but on the way down, it would likely be equally sharp, coming down very fast and by end of May might see a dramatic reduction.”
As a result of the increasing daily cases of Covid-19, many states have already imposed limited lockdowns and if the predictions of the upcoming spike by experts are to be believed, then there is a great possibility of a nationwide lockdown in the coming days or at least stricter lockdowns in heavily impacted areas.
Maharashtra remains as the state having the greatest numbers of daily infections with 60% of India’s active cases. Followed by Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, and the four union territories are also heavily influenced by the increasing cases of Corona Virus. In fact, the 3rd national Sero Survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revealed that only 21.4% of the Indian population have developed Covid-19 antibodies and a large section of the general population remains vulnerable to the highly infectious disease.
Thus, despite many experts’ previous claims that the country will not face a second wave of Covid-19 like other countries such as the UK, the larger half of the population which remains vulnerable to the virus and the rapidly increasing daily cases suggest that India is in fact nearing or has almost started facing the second wave of this deadly respiratory disease. As a result, many Indians have started doubting the effectiveness of the ongoing vaccination drive as well as the rapid production rate of Covaxin which is currently undergoing its Phase 3 trials.
According to Dr. Murad Banaji, a mathematician at Middlesex University, London who has been closely tracking the pandemic, “We have to wonder whether they are variants in widespread circulation, which are more transmissible or more capable of bypassing immune defenses built up after earlier infection.” In spite of this, India still seems to be in denial that the upward trajectory of new cases is due to the variants of coronavirus which have already been detected among the Indian population.
As a result of the exponential growth of the daily cases of Covid-19, a national peak higher than the first one may be witnessed by the country as per Dr. Banaji. While the ongoing vaccinations have definitely helped in controlling the spread of the life-threatening disease, there is little room for optimism. If the cases keep on growing exponentially in the coming days, simply relying on the vaccination program will not be enough to slow the spread of the virus.
Many Indians have started to demand another countrywide lockdown or at least statewide lockdowns in highly impacted regions. While imposing a lockdown can definitely be beneficial in controlling and possibly reducing the spread of the virus, it is to be noted that even the last nationwide lockdown was not completely successful. This is because the government failed to completely halt the movement of its citizens. This mostly included the medical professionals and the emergency workers of the nation who still remained highly susceptible to the virus and in fact, many became affected by the disease. Likewise, the previous lockdown also resulted in major economic losses for most families and the government as a whole for which the country is still paying the price to date.
Therefore, many experts have stressed that the government should not merely rely on the imposition of lockdowns to reduce the upward trajectory of new cases. They have instead highlighted the effectiveness of contact tracing and proper isolation of the infected individuals which will dramatically help in properly controlling the spread of the Corona Virus.
Furthermore, proper usage of mask and social distancing remains as an effective measure against the disease which can definitely help the Indian citizens to not only protect themselves from being the victims of Covid-19 but can also help them avoid a potential lockdown while resulting in better control of the disease than a lockdown.