COVID-19 cases likely to peak at 38-48 lakh in mid-May, predict IIT scientists

The IIT researchers had last week reportedly predicted that the pandemic may peak between May 11-15 with 33-35 lakh total active cases and decline steeply by the end of May. Earlier this month, their modelling approach projected that active infections in the country would peak by April 15, which didn't come true.

COVID-19 cases likely to peak at 38-48 lakh in mid-May, predict IIT scientists
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New Delhi: Even as India on Monday (April 26) witnessed a single-day rise of 3,52,991 (3.52 lakh) COVID-19 infections and 2,812 fatalities with 28,13,658 (28.13 lakh) active cases, a mathematical model by IIT scientists predicted that active cases in the ongoing second COVID-19 may peak at 38-48 lakh between May 14-18 and daily new infections could hit a high of 4.4 lakh from May 4-8.

The IIT scientists, who have revised their projections upwards, from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and Hyderabad applied the Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive), and Removed Approach' (SUTRA) model to predict that active cases would go up further by over 10 lakh by mid-May, said a PTI report, adding that the latest projection tweaks the time frame as well as the numbers.

The IIT researchers had last week reportedly predicted that the pandemic may peak between May 11-15 with 33-35 lakh total active cases and decline steeply by the end of May. Earlier this month, their modelling approach projected that active infections in the country would peak by April 15, which didn't come true.

"This time, I have also computed minimum and maximum for predicted values and posted it. I am reasonably confident that the actual values will be within the min and max values mentioned," Maninder Agrawal, professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT-Kanpur, told PTI.

Agrawal shared the new peak values for active and new COVID cases in a Twitter thread on Sunday.

"Peak timing: May 14-18 for active infections and May 4-8 for new infections. Peak value: 38-48 lakhs for active infections and 3.4 to 4.4 lakhs for new infections," he is quoted as saying. He also noted that it was not clear what the final values would be.

In another tweet, Agrawal said, "I have now computed a range of values for peak value and timing and the final numbers should be within this range." Explaining the changing projections of the model over time, he said, "The primary reason is that there is a continuous slow drift in parameter values of current phase for India. This makes the guess of the right values difficult. That is causing a slow change in predictions."

The scientists in the study, yet to be unpublished, reportedly said that there are several novel features in the SUTRA model. Whereas previous papers divided the patient population into asymptomatic and Infected, the new model also accounts for the fact that some fraction of asymptomatic patients could also be detected due to contact tracing and other such protocols.

The IIT Kanpur Professor noted that the SUTRA model uses three main parameters to predict the course of the pandemic. The first is called beta, or contact rate, which measures how many people an infected person infects per day. It is related to the R-nought value, which is the number of people an infected person spreads the virus to over the course of their infection, Agrawal told PTI.

The other two parameters are 'reach', which is a measure of the exposure level of the population to the pandemic, and 'epsilon' which is the ratio of detected and undetected cases.

Independent calculations by Gautam Menon and his team at Ashoka University in Haryana had predicted that the peak of the ongoing wave of infections could be between mid-April and mid-May. Menon also cautioned that such projections of COVID-19 cases should really be trusted only in the short term.

Any excessively precise prediction, of a peak within just a five-day window would ignore the many uncertainties associated with the inputs to any such calculation, Menon, who was not involved in the modelling, had told PTI earlier. 

Meanwhile, with 3,52,991 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, the highest so far, India's total tally of COVID-19 cases has climbed to 1,73,13,163 while active cases have crossed the 28-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.

The data also said that the death toll increased to 1,95,123 with a record 2,812 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. Registering a steady increase, the active cases have increased to 28,13,658 comprising 16.25 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 82.62 per cent. 

The data further said that number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,43,04,382. The case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.13 per cent.

India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on  November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. India crossed the grim milestone of 1.50 crore on April 19. 

The 2,812 new fatalities include 832 from Maharashtra, 350 from Delhi, 206 from Uttar Pradesh, 199 from Chhattisgarh,?157 from Gujarat, 143 from Karnataka, and 103 from Jharkhand, the ministry report said, adding that a total of 1,95,123 deaths have been reported so far in the country.

This includes 64,760 from Maharashtra, 14,426 from Karnataka, 14,248 from Delhi, 13,557 from Tamil Nadu, 11,165 from Uttar Pradesh, 10,941 from West Bengal, 8,432 from Punjab and 7,685 from Andhra Pradesh.

(With Agency Inputs)

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