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Opinion

Covid-19: what you need to know today

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Delhi is suffering from a third wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), but what about the rest of India?

On Monday, India recorded 27,968 cases of Covid-19, according to the HT panel. Recorded cases are typically one day late in testing, so part of the credit for the low number of cases should go to the corresponding low number of tests performed on Sunday (735,551; compared to an average of 1,098,200 every day of the week last week). India conducted just 674,020 tests on Monday, a public holiday in many parts of the country. As expected, on Tuesday the country registered 38,599 new cases. France registered 27,228 cases on Nov. 15, according to the NYT database. On Monday, the UK had 21,363 cases, Italy 27,352 and the US 166,581.

Despite the temporary anomalies created by low tests over the weekend and Monday in India, it is quite possible that the number of daily cases in some European countries will exceed that of the country if they continue on their current trajectory. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, India and Germany are the only two, among the 10 most affected countries today, whose case trajectory tends to the south.

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India especially has been trending south steadily since mid-September.

Between the beginning of August and mid-October, the number of daily cases in India (boiling over that period) was also higher than in the US And in absolute terms, the figures for India are where they were in July.

India’s trajectory presents an interesting visual study: it lay flat (and this is even more stark when considering the seven-day averages) for almost two weeks in late October and the first half of November. This generally means the end of one wave and the beginning of the next. Instead, perhaps due to the series of holidays that followed (Saturday was Diwali and Monday was Bhai Dooj, making it a three-day weekend for testing), the numbers have dropped further.

Without taking this into account, this columnist begins to see the beginning of the second wave in the country. This is an early (and worrying) call. However, it is based on data. There has been an increase in daily new cases for the last two weeks (again, I have ignored the data for the last three days) in Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Interestingly, three of these states – Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – were the first hot spots for coronavirus disease in the country. It is logical to think that if there is a temporal pattern in the trajectory of the pandemic, these states should register it first.

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However, this prediction comes with a caveat, one that has to do with the prevalence of infection in a region. This is a parameter that is best captured through generalized antibody tests, popularly called sero surveys in India. Such surveys test for Covid-19 antibodies and their presence generally indicates exposure and thus immunity, even if only temporary, to the disease. I say generally because researchers are learning that certain populations or population segments have antibodies that recognize and fight against the Sars-CoV-2 virus without having been exposed to it, one of the reasons offered by some for the low mortality rates in parts from Africa.

Unfortunately, India has been negligent with these types of surveys. While the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) mandated that each of the country’s 700 districts conduct regular serographic surveys, few have done so. The result is a mosaic of data that confuses more than it illuminates.

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There is another reason why I think India is seeing the start of a second wave, which will become apparent in the next fortnight: in countries that have seen a second (and in some cases a third) wave, these have been preceded by easing of restrictions. , holidays and celebrations that witnessed social gatherings or large public events. Most of India has seen all, or at least some of these, for the last two months and especially the last few weeks.

However, I would love to be wrong about this.

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