Covid-19: Scientists revise peak predictions upwards to 38-48 lakh cases in mid-May

Meanwhile, government remains remorseless, even as the healthcare infrastructure struggles to keep up


10 days ago, scientists from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) had used a mathematical model to predict that India’s Covid graph could peak at 33-35 lakh active cases by mid-May and decline thereafter. But the same scientists have now revised their predictions upwards.

Now, these scientists from IIT Hyderabad and Kanpur say that the peak numbers could range from 38-48 lakhs between May 14 and 18. They also say that the daily infections could go as high as 4.4 fresh cases between May 4 and 8. Given how, we are already recording over 3.5 lakh new cases every day, the number doesn’t seem that far off.

How was the model designed?

The scientists used a model called Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive), and Removed Approach’ (SUTRA) to arrive at the numbers. Maninder Agrawal, professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT-Kanpur, has been posting the findings on Twitter and predicts that while cases in West Bengal will peak between May 1 and 5, in Kerala they will peak between May 5 and 10.

The SUTRA model uses contact rate, reach and the ratio of detected to undetected cases as the three main parameters to predict the course of the pandemic. While, prima facie this seems sound, one cannot ignore that the quality of data available may be unreliable in the first place. This is not only because of poor contact tracing mechanisms, but also under-reportage of cases and even deaths due to Covid. SabrangIndia has been reporting on several such instances in GujaratMadhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.  

Growing international condemnation and flight bans

Meanwhile, the Indian administration has been at the receiving end of scathing criticism from international publications. On Wednesday, French newspaper Le Monde squarely blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “Such a backlash cannot be explained solely by the unpredictability of a virus and its variants. The lack of foresight, the arrogance and demagoguery of Narendra Modi are obviously among the causes of a situation which today seems out of control and requires international mobilization. The Prime Minister, after having paralyzed and traumatized his country in 2020 by decreeing brutal confinement, abandoning millions of migrant workers, completely lowered his guard at the beginning of 2021.”

Many countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Honk Kong, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Kuwait and UAE have instituted varying degrees of bans on people travelling from India. The US Center for Disease Control has issued an advisory to Americans not to travel to India.

Apathy and arrogance displayed by the government

Meanwhile, several public events and gatherings continue to be conducted and planned in India. Uttarakhand appears to be tempting fate announcing Char Dham Yatra, even though thousands of participants of the recently held Kumbh Mela were diagnosed with Covid-19.

The attitude of those in power ranges from insensitive to outright apathetic as they appear to be more interested in furthering their own political agendas. While Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar tried to brush aside allegations of mismatch in Covid death data with a shocking “dead won’t come back to life” remark, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath has ‘warned’ hospitals that put up notices saying they have run out of oxygen, accusing them of spreading false panic.


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