Published: Published Date – 12:05 AM, Fri – 24 June 22

Hyderabad: The ongoing surge of Covid infections in multiple States, including Telangana, which is being attributed to BA4 and BA5 variants of Omicron, is merely a ripple and not a wave, the developers of the SUTRA mathematical model for forecasting pandemics on Thursday said.

The mathematicians and researchers from IIT-Kanpur and IIT Hyderabad, who developed the SUTRA mathematical model, which to a large extent has been accurate in forecasting the trajectory of the previous three Covid waves, said the ongoing rise of infections across the country will peak most likely by the middle of July and taper by August-end.

The SUTRA forecast has indicated that at its peak, during the present surge, the maximum daily Covid infections will peak anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 infections across the country.

“The current rise is merely a small ripple that will peak around mid-July with 20-25K cases per day. Our earlier estimates were higher because the phase was not fully stable then,” a mathematician from IIT-Kanpur and one of the developers of the SUTRA model, Dr Manindra Agrawal, said.

While many public health experts and geneticists are suspecting BA4 and BA5 variants of the Omicron for the rise in Covid infections, researchers from SUTRA have attributed the surge to a gradual reduction of natural immunity gained by vulnerable populations.

“As per our model, the current rise is primarily caused by a slight (2 per cent to 3 per cent) increase in susceptible population due to waning of natural immunity. In future, one should expect more such ripples as more people lose natural immunity,” Dr Agrawal pointed out.

Meanwhile, the latest genome sequencing data from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has indicated a steady rise in BA5 and BA4 variant-induced infections in Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In the last fortnight, according to INSACOG genome sequencing data, the total number of BA5 cases reported in Tamil Nadu was 72 while Telangana reported 25 cases and Karnataka reported over 40 cases.

Similarly, during the same time period, Telangana reported 10 BA4 positive infections while Tamil Nadu reported 9, Karnataka reported 8 and Maharashtra reported 6 BA4 variant infections. The developers of the SUTRA model have also made it clear that unless there is a new potential mutant coronavirus capable of bypassing natural immunity gained by people during the last three waves, there is minimal chance of another major Covid wave.

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