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India could see spike in cases within days, says Cambridge tracker

India could see spike in cases within days, says Cambridge tracker

Ground Report | New Delhi: Cambridge tracker India; India may see an outbreak in the Covid-19 growth rate in a few days and head into an intense but short-lived virus wave as the highly infectious omicron variant moves through the crowded nation of nearly 1.4 billion.

“India is likely to experience a period of explosive growth in daily cases and the phase of intense growth is relatively short,” said Paul Kattuman, a professor at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, who has developed a Covid-19 Tracker India wrote in an email. “New infections will start to increase in a few days, possibly within this week,” he said, adding that it was difficult to predict how high the daily cases could go.

Kattuman and his team of researchers, developers of India’s Covid tracker, are seeing a sharp increase in infection rates across India. The tracker highlighted six states as a “significant concern” in a December 24 note, with an adjusted growth rate of new cases exceeding 5%. This had expanded to 11 states in India by Dec. 26, according to the tracker, which corrects for “weekday effects” and other variations.

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India, which has confirmed 34.8 million infections and 480,290 deaths so far, is already preparing to deal with another massive outbreak despite only 653 cases of highly mutated omicron being identified so far. Last week, it allowed booster shots and included teens ages 15 to 18 in the vaccination program. The local drug regulator approved two more vaccines on Tuesday, as well as Merck & Co.’s antiviral pill molnupiravir.

The capital New Delhi closed cinemas, schools, and gyms and introduced restrictions on public gatherings on Tuesday, a day after it reported the newest cases in more than four months. The nightly curfew starts from 10 pm to 5 am and the bars, restaurants and offices will have a 50% occupancy.

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These political decisions underscore the harsh lessons India learned after a deadly delta-led wave of viruses in April and May that pushed infections to a record high of more than 400,000 every day. It overwhelmed the country’s hospitals and crematoriums and left its citizens asking for oxygen and other medical resources on social media platforms.

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The Cambridge India tracker had correctly called the peak of this devastating second wave in May and also predicted in August that India would see a smoldering curve in its Covid infections curve until vaccination coverage was high enough. India surpassed 1 billion doses of vaccines administered in October and new cases plummeted along with that milestone.

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