4 Indian states at high COVID risk; may need curbs: US expert
Maharashtra, Kerala, AP and Delhi are seeing a rise in COVID cases, and may require curbs immediately, says US expert Bhramar Mukherjee
Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistics and epidemiology expert from the University of Michigan, who has been working on COVID studies, says the weekly growth rate of cases is rising in four states — Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi. The need of the hour could be stricter restrictions in those places at the earliest, said Mukherjee.
“This is NOT the time to indulge in Covid fatigue. Neither denial, nor panic is going to help us with containment. Only science will,” she tweeted.
With Delta sublineages circulating and an uptick in Maharashtra, Kerala, AP, we need to intensify public health measures and scale up vaccination.
This is NOT the time to indulge in covid fatigue. Neither denial, nor panic is going to help us with containment. Only science will.
— Bhramar Mukherjee (@BhramarBioStat) June 27, 2021
India has been breathing a sigh of relief with a fall in new cases and COVID-related deaths. Despite the impending threat of a third wave, unlock measures are being implemented to restart the economy.
Critical weekly trends
According to a report in The Print, Mukherjee’s team monitors the relative rate of change of cases on a weekly basis, rather than studying the absolute numbers, to discern trends. The team had predicted the second wave in India back in February.
“Lockdowns in April in almost every state to some extent suppressed and brought the case count down,” she said in an interview. “But there is still enough virus in the community and there are new mutations happening, so it is a very dangerous time to reopen fully and let your guard down.”
“The last seven days, we have seen an uptick in Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and slightly even in Delhi… data-nimble policymaking is the key here. As soon as you see an uptick, you need to hunker down and not let it explode. Letting it simmer is absolutely the wrong strategy for this virus, so there should be more restrictions coming in these states right away,” she told The Print.
What is surprising here is that Kerala, Maharashtra and Delhi have seen enough cases to have developed some protection by now, she said. “Also, around 30% people have received at least one vaccine dose in Kerala and Delhi and 20% in Maharashtra. We are still seeing upticks,” she pointed out.
Third wave fears
On the anticipated third wave of COVID, the researcher said there isn’t enough evidence to prove it. Also, there is little evidence that a third wave would affect children, she added.
Just like Kerala, Maharashtra is showing some variation from the consistent decline phase.
I am not ready for the third wave. Whether a third wave happens or not is largely in our hands. It is not set in stone. We need to watch out for changes at a granular level and act early. pic.twitter.com/bxG0aZzNkS
— Bhramar Mukherjee (@BhramarBioStat) June 24, 2021
On the question of vaccines, Mukherjee is emphatic that India needs at least 1 crore shots a day to contain the pandemic. Vaccinations in the paediatric age group could hold the key to controlling the pandemic, the Print report quoted her as saying.