Covid third wave likely to hit India ‘this month’ and could peak in October, report warns

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People queue up to get themselves inoculated at a residential settlement in Mumbai on 2 August 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
People queue up to get themselves inoculated at a residential settlement in Mumbai on 2 August 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

India could see the start of a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic before the end of this month, a group of researchers have predicted.

Modelling carried out by experts who previously predicted the second wave, which saw India reporting more than 400,000 new cases a day at its peak, said that the third wave would likely peak in October.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Mathukumalli Vidyasagar and Manindra Agrawal at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad and Kanpur, respectively, said their models predicted a third wave would peak at around 100,000 to 150,000 daily cases.

Mr Vidyasagar said that higher numbers reported from the southern Indian states of Kerala and Maharashtra could potentially “skew the picture”.

India is currently reporting nearly 40,000 coronavirus cases daily, with Kerala contributing nearly 20,000 of those on average. The higher prevalence in Kerala has been attributed to an increase in testing there, rather than any particular outbreak.

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On Monday, India added 40,134 new cases of coronavirus infections to its tally, taking the total number of reported infections to 31.7 million. The country has so far administered 472.2 million vaccine shots, but only 7.6 per cent of its total population is fully vaccinated.

The researchers behind the latest modelling reiterated the need to increase the number of vaccinations being administered per day, suggesting that India deploys surveillance methods to detect emerging hotspots and stays vigilant for new variants through increased genome sequencing.

Earlier in July, the US-based nonprofit Centre for Global Development had said that the true death toll in India could be between 3 million to 4.7 million based on excess death estimates. This would be almost 10 times the official Covid death toll of around 425,000. The Indian government has rejected the report, though it did accept that several Indian states are still “reconciling” their data.

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