India’s Covid surge could reach 3 lakh cases a day but end by mid-may: Prof of Epidemiology Brahmar Mukherjee
One of the United States’ most highly regarded epidemiologists, who have closely studied the spread of Covid in India, says at its peak the second Covid surge could increase between 1.8 and 3 lakh cases a day with daily deaths between 1500 and 2000. However, Prof Brahma Mukherjee adds that this surge could be over by mid-May. Prof Mukherjee said her forecast was based on five separate mathematical projections which she had worked on over the weekend specifically for this interview.
In a 37 minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Prof Mukherjee, who is a Professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Michigan, said she believes the present count of the daily increase in Covid cases is perhaps under-reporting the true picture by a factor of 10 or 20, although it’s more likely to be 10. She also said daily deaths are perhaps being under-reported by a factor of 2 to 5. This means that whilst cases are increasing by 1 lakh reported cases a day the unreported daily increase could be a further million. Similarly, daily deaths could be five times greater than the officially reported figure. Prof Mukherjee called the present situation in India “very worrying”
The details of the interview have been given by the interviewer’s office in a release.
Prof Mukherjee said the double mutant strain in Maharashtra and the UK variant in Punjab have created “a very worrying situation”. She had no hesitation in saying the two mutant strains have definitely spread beyond Maharashtra and Punjab and threaten the rest of the country.
She said if you reverse engineer the rate of growth in Maharashtra it’s clear the double mutant is the main cause. She also said she believes the UK variant has reached levels of community spread in Punjab.
Prof Mukherjee told The Wire India needs to increase genome sequencing “by orders of magnitude” and not just in percentages. She said the 11,064 samples so far sequenced may arguably be sufficient to track known variants but were nowhere near enough to track emerging and unknown variants.
Prof Mukherjee said that India must restrict the size of electoral rallies, make masks compulsory and increase virtual campaigning if it wants to check the present surge of the virus.
In the interview to The Wire Prof Mukherjee called for a change in India’s vaccination strategy. She said India must do “ring vaccination” and intensified vaccinations in the worst affected states and regions. She said India must consider taking vans to community neighborhoods to vaccinate people, particularly the vaccine-hesitant. She also said India must consider using the single dose Johnson vaccine and thus eliminate the need to ensure people return for the second jab.
In The Wire interview, Prof Mukherjee spoke in detail of the need to find imaginative and innovative ways of encouraging young people to get vaccinated. She said India could follow the Israeli example of enticing young people with offers of pizzas and drinks.
Finally, Prof Mukherjee laid great stress on continuing with Covid’s appropriate behavior. She said in a country where social distancing is impossible for many people the big message must be to wear masks. She said it should be mandatory. In this context, she said the statement by the Assam Health Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma that there was no need for masks in Assam was “completely wrong messaging”.
Here is the link: https://youtu.be/4y_qa9DKKgI
‘India’s Covid Surge Could Reach 1.8 to 3 Lakh Cases a Day, 1500 Daily Deaths, But End by Mid May‘
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