A pandemic is just a game of numbers. The Covid19 virus does not discriminate based on your nationality, religion or political affiliation. China is the most populous nation but they seem to have succeeded in containing the disease. India hasn’t. So it is just a matter of time till we reach the top.
With the massive movement of the migrant population and people letting down their guard, it is very unlikely that we will be able to contain this here after. The good news is that the rate of increase is slowing down. But with the huge cumulative base that we have built up, the numbers are going to be big. We predict that we shall grow at a rate of 5% till May 31. This means we will have around 2 lakh confirmed cases and around 6000 dead by the end of the month. It took us around 110 days to reach the first 1 lakh cases but the next lakh would be added in 15 days.
The US has been steadily adding 20-30K cases daily for the past month. India has 4 times the population. So we too may end up adding a lakh cases everyday. Till June end, the US is going to retain its position on the top of the chart. It also has secured its place in the final top five. Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan are the other contenders. But in the interim Russia, Mexico, Brazil are going to wrestle for the second position for the daily new cases. Most European countries are done with their share of limelight and will slowly move out of the charts. Both Brazil and the US are being criticized for the wrong decisions by their leaders. Russia and Germany are both showing a very low death rate due to their effective healthcare infrastructure. Pakistan and most African countries might not have the necessary funds to test their citizens and may report only a fraction of the actual cases. Though this might look bad, we still have managed to add around 3Cr people to the world population since the beginning of Covid19 outbreak. So keep your chin up.
Now coming back to India, the migrant population moving around and stranded people returning home after lockdown 2.0 have been the bulk of new cases. Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad each have more than 5% of total cases in India and are skewing up the state numbers. We suggest to remove these run away cases and analyse the dynamics of the remainder of the states. It is very important that we contain these cities if we want to nurture any hopes of stopping this disease. The bright side is that we have still not run out of medical resources anywhere and may not in most places till the end of June.
While simplified models like SIR and it’s variants could reasonably predict the first wave in most European countries, such models badly fit the Indian case. We are too early in the growth phase of the disease that all the numbers so far may soon appear to be noise if we use these models. So very few teams have been able to make a prediction and those who made public their views pretty early now appear like fools as the real growth has been very different. We have been working tirelessly to build a prediction model that will better describe what is happening but the problem is hard. As volunteers who have other daily responsibilities, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to put in the time and resources that such analysis needs. But since the questions are very important we are still trying. The problem among the Indian scientific community seems to be that those who know Math do not know ML and vise versa, those who know theory do not know how to program, those in power don’t know how to use the resources, those who are capable to solve the puzzles do not have resources and access to data. We have not yet found a satisfying model that fits the Indian spread and answers the basic questions. It is now clear that this is going to be a painfully long story and we will continue working towards solving it bit, by bit.