However, the researchers noted that the exact peak number of cases cannot be estimated accurately with the study as it did not consider the vaccination data of the population.

Man in a PPE kit taking a swab sample for COVID-19 test from a ladyRepresentational image/PTI
news COVID-19 Saturday, December 25, 2021 - 12:58

The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India may peak by February 3, 2022, a modelling study by researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur said. However, the forecast is based on the assumption that India will follow the trends of rise in cases seen in many countries globally driven by the Omicron variant of coronavirus. The IIT study came even as the government said on Friday, December 24, that the world is witnessing a fourth surge in COVID-19 cases, and cautioned people against lowering the guard, particularly during year-end festivities.

Officials said the predominant strain in India continued to be Delta, and urged people to avoid crowding and unnecessary travel while maintaining COVID-19-appropriate behaviour. The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, posted on the preprint repository MedRxiv on December 21, used a statistical tool named the Gaussian Mixture model to forecast the third wave.

In their study, the researchers used data from countries such as the US, UK, Germany, and Russia that are already facing the third COVID-19 wave. They modelled the daily data of cases in these countries to predict the impact and timeline for the third wave in India. The study also used the data from the first and second waves in India, considering the number of cases with respect to time.

The model forecasts India's third wave of COVID-19 to peak in the beginning of February 2022."The cases start rising around 15 December 2021 and the peak of the third wave will occur on Thursday, 3 February 2022, '' they wrote in the research paper.

The authors of the study noted that the conclusions are based on the assumptions that a third wave of COVID-19 may hit the country, and will follow the trends happening around the world. However, the researchers noted that the exact peak number of cases cannot be estimated accurately with the study as it did not consider the vaccination data of the population.

The research team consisted of Sabara Parshad Rajeshbhai, Subhra Sankar Dhar, and Shalabh, all from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at IIT Kanpur. The authors noted that the vaccination campaign by the union government is a good initiative but it will take some time to reach "100% efficacy". "In many countries like the US, UK, Germany, Russia, the majority of the people have been vaccinated but still they are currently facing the third wave," the authors explained.

"So, India and other countries have to build up the defences and be prepared for another wave so that it is not as devastating as the earlier ones," they added.

According to the National COVID-19 Supermodel Committee, the third wave of COVID-19 is expected to peak in early next year but would be milder than the second wave. The members of the committee said last week that daily caseload in India is expected to increase once Omicron starts displacing Delta as the dominant variant.

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