India Alert 2

Just five days ago I wrote about my fears of what is about to happen in India. The situation is finally getting a little bit of press, but not enough.

The official death toll in India stands at 483,000. However, the actual mortality is considerably higher. In one study, three different methodologies were used to estimate excess deaths in India from COVID up to June 2021, which was in the tail end of that wave. These estimates ranged from 3.4-4.9 million excess deaths due to COVID.

In only five days time, the data paints a frightening picture as the omicron variant begins to spread in the country. One can now easily see this exponential growth of cases currently compared to the graph from five days ago.

The red line in this graph is the slope, or can also be referred to as the first derivative. It’s a measure of how quickly cases are growing or slowing. and the distance from zero as represented on the right axis is directly proportional to the rate of growth or slowing. It was that inflection on the graph a few days ago that caught my attention much more than the epidemic curve itself because the massive scale of the last big wave dwarfed the current incidence of cases.

The next piece to look at is how quickly that 1st derivative is growing. That allows for a comparison between the last wave and the current one to see if there is much difference. Just by eye, it looks as if the current wave is considerably steeper. The 2nd derivative is useful to assess that assumption.

The graph below has that same 1st derivative (the red line) but the scale for it is on the left. The 2nd derivative is in blue and is on the right.

The question that this can answer is whether the rate of the rate of acceleration is even faster this surge. To help understand how this works, look at the red highlighted box on the right. The bottom left corner of it is aligned with the start of the climb of the first derivative. The top right corner is aligned with the current height of the first derivative. The height is what is important for the comparison.

The yellow highlighted box is the same height as the red one. The bottom left corner starts at the corresponding start of the earlier surge on the 1st derivative. The next thing to do was to widen that box to find the point at which the 1st derivative was the same height as seen in the red highlight. It’s obviously quite a bit wider.

Each of those boxes has been placed with their left edge corresponding to Sep 1, 2021 on the date scale at the bottom and they overlap. Think of each as being pushed to the left edge of the dotted line surrounding them.

If you look at the now orange box (from overlapping red and yellow), you can see that this current rate of the rate of acceleration (not a typo) was reached in about two weeks, whereas in the prior surge, it took about 5-6. That is what we would expect with the omicron variant because of it’s much higher rate of spread.

This can also be seen by the higher reproduction rate of cases this surge compared to the prior one.

That could easily spell a major disaster for India. Currently, it’s estimated that 63% of the population has had one dose of vaccine and only 45% has had two. The epidemic curve against vaccinations is in the graph below.

I have already discussed to some extent how this is really bad for not just India, but the entire world. Until we have N95 or equivalent masks, adequate testing, and a fully implemented mass vaccination program globally, this cycle is likely to continue due the much higher chance of new variants arising as the virus has more chances to mutate and replicate. We are YEARS from being out of the woods from COVID.

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