A general atmosphere of anxiety prevails across the country with India's COVID-19 figures already past the 6 million mark. Add to it the fact that most of the COVID-19 vaccine contenders are projected to be launched for public use mostly after this year and to reach each and everyone across the world only by 2024. Needless to say, these are inundating projections and the fact that we have been homebound for so long does not help either.
But don't be too disheartened. A recent study by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai does give us some positive insight. Sitabhra Sinha, a researcher at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences recently shared with The Print that some of the worst affected states in India like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have registered an R-value of less than 1 this month. Now, this is huge news and here's everything you need to know to understand its implications:
The COVID-19 reproduction, or R, is an estimate to find out the number of people who have been infected by an already infected person. To illustrate, if a country's R rate happens to be 2 then it means that at an average, every infected person further infects 2 more. While India began with an R rate of 1.83 (implying that approximately one or more than one person was getting infected by every COVID-19 positive individual) in March, the same rate was at 2.14 and 2.73 in Wuhan and Italy respectively.
Talking about the dropping R-Rate, Sinha explains “We will still see new infections happening, but the important point is that recoveries are more. If the R-value can be maintained below 1, the epidemic will eventually die out but we need to have R less than 1 for a considerable length of time for this to happen."
To put it in simpler terms, if we are able to sustain this R-rate, then it won't be long before the pandemic actually wanes out. Also, this is a strong indication in the direction that India's COVID-19 peak is finally beginning to subside.
A decreasing R-Rate does not mean that the pandemic is over. Because in case we go too careless, the R-value can very well spike again. As Sinha explains, “Earlier we had seen that in Delhi, after keeping R less than 1 for more than a month, the R suddenly increased beyond 1, thereby losing the gains they had made."
Clearly, The dropping R-rate in no way means that it is time to go cavalier with the pandemic and social distancing rules and regulations. The need for us is to be more careful and vigilant than before so that the pandemic subsides soon.
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