The second wave of COVID-19 cases in India can last up to 100 days from February 15 and the total cases in the country are expected in the order of 25 lakh, a research report by the State Bank of India (SBI) said.
India is witnessing a second wave of infections from February, with daily new cases and daily tests rising again. Considering the number of days from the current level of daily new cases to the peak level during the first wave, India might reach the peak in the second half of April, the report prepared by the bank's economic research department said.
On Thursday, India recorded its highest-ever one-day spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths from the disease this year, with 53,364 people testing positive for the virus. The daily rise in infections was the highest recorded in 132 days, while the country's COVID-19 death toll increased to 1,60,441, with 275 new fatalities, the highest in around 83 days. The country's active caseload stood at 3,68,457, or 3.14 per cent of total infections.
New cases in top 15 districts, which are mostly urban, increased this year which shows cases are still concentrated, SBI said, adding that fatality rate in top 15 districts has also risen. "However, the good thing is that the share of rural districts in new cases is also almost constant over the past few months."
The report said global COVID-19 experience shows that second wave is much higher in intensity than the first wave. However, the presence of vaccine will be the difference this time, and India will be able to manage the situation better. It called for increasing the pace of vaccination in the country.
It said certain states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Haryana have vaccinated more than 20 per cent of their elderly population aged above 60 years. However, several states with higher elderly population, including Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal, have vaccinated less percentage of their elderly population. It said these states must increase their pace of inoculation.
As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India has so far administered 5.31 crore COVID-19 vaccination doses as on 7 am on Thursday.
While states including Mizoram, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tripura, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh have much higher injection to infection ratio than the overall average, Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh have inoculated less number of people compared to the spread of infection, the SBI report said.
Going by the health infrastructure in the country, India has the capacity to increase the daily doses to around 1 crore per day from the current maximum level of 34 lakh per day. However, SBI pointed out that daily production capacity of Covishield and Covaxin is around 52 lakh per day and there are also export commitments.
"...if we assume more number of people are willing to take vaccines and the daily vaccine inoculation increases to 40-45 lakhs from the current maximum level of 34 lakhs, then the entire population will be vaccinated in 1 year 9 months and with this capacity we can vaccinate our population above 45 years in 4 months," the report said.
It also called lockdowns ineffective in controlling the rise in infections and death rate, and said this is visible in states like Maharashtra and Punjab. The losses due to restrictions and lockdowns in terms of livelihood loss and hunger and disease are much severe, it said, adding that higher pace of vaccination is the only way to control the menace of COVID-19.