The second surge in coronavirus cases in Karnataka could peak as early as mid-April if people follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, said scientists from IISc who have been modelling the outbreak since last year.
The assertion comes from inputting data variables into a multi-dimensional, partial differential equation (PDE) model, details of which were published in the journal
Nature Scientific Reports on March 24.
Associate professor Shashikumar Ganesan, chairman of the Department of Computational and Data Sciences (CDS), who built the model together with assistant professor Deepak Subramani, also of CDS, said the prediction takes into account variables such as the severity of the infection, the age distribution in the population, duration and severity of the infection, vaccination levels, sero-prevalence at different locations and time.
The model was updated to take into account the results of various sero-prevalence studies and considers a sero-prevalence factor of 20x while mapping the second surge.
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This factor is meant to match the 21.5% national sero-prevalence as established by the third nationwide sero-survey, which was conducted between December 17, 2020, and January 8, 2021.
Accordingly, the model suggests the second wave could peak between April 10 and 30 in Karnataka. “But the caveat is that there needs to be rigorous social distancing and mask-wearing, on par with levels early during the pandemic at this time last year,” Ganesan said, adding that no specific lockdown is needed to achieve this rapid peaking.
“There are three specific factors which can be considered the equivalent of last year’s lockdown: ongoing vaccinations, existing sero-prevalence, and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour of physical distancing, masking, and avoiding crowds in closed, ill-ventilated areas,” he said.
Dr Thrilok Chandra, Commissioner (health), noted that the state’s Technical Advisory Committee has not provided projections on when the surge will end. “However, it will end quickly if people follow Covid-appropriate behaviour,” he said.
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The IISc team’s timeline is independently supported by another model developed at IIT Kanpur. Professor Manindra Agrawal, Head of the Department of Computer Science at IIT Kanpur, who helped develop a model called Sutra, told DH that the daily new infections are likely to peak pan-India around April 20, give or
minus five days.
“This is because of the speed of the surge, and speed of the infections is also resulting in a large number of people being immunised in a short time,” he said.
In the event people do not follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, the scientists mapped a worst-case scenario, which shows that another rise after the April peak will be observed from June.