India's COVID-19 R-value rises amid third wave concerns
India's COVID-19 R-value — an indicator of how fast the disease is spreading — is on the rise amid concerns over an expected third wave of the pandemic. It rose to 1.17 in the final week of August as against 0.89 between August 14-17, according to researchers at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai. Here's what you need to know.
Rise driven by states like Kerala, Maharashtra
"Not only is it greater than one, it is much higher than the last time there was a scare of a third wave. It was 1.03 at that time," Sitabhra Sinha, leading the team of researchers, told news agency PTI. Sinha said the surge has been driven by an increase of R-value in several states, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram, and Jammu and Kashmir.
What is the R-value?
R-value is the rate at which a disease spreads in a community. In simpler terms, it is a measure of how many people an infected person is further infecting at a point in time. For instance, an R-value of 1.0 implies an infected person will, on an average, transmit the virus to one more person. R-value above one is considered a cause for concern.
Which states have a high R-value?
The R-value in Kerala shot up to 1.33 from 0.87 the previous week. For Maharashtra, which also had an R-value of 0.87, it rose to 1.06. However, besides these two worst-hit states, other areas are also seeing a surge. Mizoram has the highest R-value of 1.36 while the same for Jammu and Kashmir is 1.25. The value is 1.09 for Andhra Pradesh.
What was the R-value earlier?
When the second wave of the coronavirus had hit the country earlier this year, the R-value was 1.37 between March 9 and April 21. Between May 15 and June 26, it dropped to 0.78. It then rose for a brief period before decreasing again. The value was 0.92 during August 6-9, 0.99 during August 12-14, and 0.89 during August 14-17.
In the past 24 hours, India reported 42,618 new coronavirus cases, a marginal drop from yesterday. Meanwhile, the country's death toll went up by 330 during the same period. Worryingly, Kerala accounted for nearly 70 percent of the new cases and over a third of the fresh fatalities. The daily positivity rate stands at 2.50 percent.
What are the projections for third wave?
Experts have warned a third wave of COVID-19 could hit India between September and October. However, it will likely be less severe than the devastating previous wave in April-May, according to researchers at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Manindra Agrawal, an IIT-Kanpur scientist working on projections for the pandemic, said the new wave would peak at around 1,00,000 daily cases.