Covid-19 2nd wave: India stares at over 1K daily deaths

Covid-19 second wave: India stares at over 1,000 daily deaths in coming weeks

This is despite a low fatality rate of 1.3 per cent and 90,000 to 100,000 plus new cases every day

Since the beginning of March, there has been a five-fold increase in average daily deaths in the six weeks as the growth in the Covid-19 pandemic approached the second peak in April. Credit: Reuters Photo

The subdued mortality seen in the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic so far notwithstanding, India may be staring at more than 1,000 daily deaths in the coming weeks as an astounding number of new cases piles up every day.

Even with a low fatality rate of 1.3 per cent and 90,000 to 100,000 plus new cases every day – this was the trend in the past week – India may soon be dealing with 1,000 plus Covid-19 deaths daily.

“If you let the disease spread in an unleashed way, you are looking at a huge number of infections and deaths even with a low case fatality rate of 1.4 per cent (it is 1.3 per cent as per the Health Ministry) because the total number of deaths is a product of infections and fatality rates. And please remember, each number is a person,” Bhramar Mukherjee, professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan told DH.

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There are early signs. Since the beginning of March, there has been a five-fold increase in average daily deaths in the six weeks as the growth in the Covid-19 pandemic approached the second peak in April. In the week of February 24-March 2, there were on average 111 Covid-19 deaths daily. The number jumped to 529 deaths in the week of March 31-April 6.

On the basis of the seven-day average, the peak of the second wave touched the first wave on Wednesday with more than 93,000 cases on an average for the past seven days.

Two of the last seven days saw reporting of more than 1 lakh new Covid-19 cases and a new grim record was set in the last 24 hours with the reporting of 1,15,736 fresh cases. While the bulk of the cases and deaths were from Maharashtra, with nearly 10,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, Chhattisgarh is a new worry.

Also read — With 59,907 cases, Maharashtra sees record daily spike

“Any assumption that the current surge is linked to low case fatality is a misconception. The health infrastructure in many places will face a stiff challenge in the next few weeks due to the pace at which the test positivity rate is skyrocketing. When there is a huge rise in demand for oxygen, ICUs and high dependency care the fatality rate will rise exponentially,” commented Oommen John, a public health researcher at the George Institute for Global Health, Delhi.

The lessons that doctors had learnt in the past year may have helped so far in keeping the toll on the lower side. But with the pandemic spreading to smaller towns where the health care infrastructure is below par, the experts are keeping their fingers crossed. “There is no evidence that case fatality rates are lower at this time but it may seem that way because doctors are better prepared this time and some people may have been vaccinated at least for one dose,” said Ramanan Laxminarayanan from the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in Washington DC.

“Real-time monitoring of caseloads and health systems capacity will help plan and augment the capacity. This is critical to avoid preventable deaths due to Covid-19,” added John.