NEW DELHI: India is expected to witness a steep rise in COVID-19 deaths by mid-May, with a scientific model projecting painting a grim picture.
In the worst-case scenario, mortality is projected to increase to 38,220 from present 652, while the number of positive patients is predicted to touch nearly 30 lakh and over 76,000 ICU beds in hospitals will be required to handle the projected load.
The projections are based on a statistical model ‘COVID-19 Med Inventory’ — an academic initiative by Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore, IIT-Bombay and Armed Forces Medical College-Pune.
It has been facilitated by K Vijayaraghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India.
The researchers said that the projections of infections and deaths in Italy and New York State, based on this model, closely match the actual outcomes.
“Based on current data, the model projects worst-case estimate to be around 38,000 COVID-19 related deaths by May 19. It may change as the actual data comes in. Our estimates tend to be on the higher side, as the purpose is to alert the system about upper side need for healthcare loads such as ICU and other related infrastructure,” JNCASR Associate Professor Santosh Ansumali told this newspaper.
The four-week mortality projection shows 1,012 deaths by week 1 (April 28); 3,258 during week 2 (May 5); 10,924 by week 3 (May 12) and 38,220 by week 4 (May 19). The projections are adaptive, continuously correcting, based on the currently available data.
Ansumali says that the model has taken into account the end of the lockdown on May 3 and that is reflected in a spike in death rates post lockdown; the rate would remain low if the lockdown is extended, it estimates.
The model uses deceased count, which is more reliable than the reported confirmed positive cases, to project the district-level requirement of doctors, medical staff, PPEs, ventilators, oxygen, masks etc.
This should be helpful in planning for infrastructure, arranging essential human resources and procurement of materials.
“This granular information can play a significant role in the improvement of health infrastructure,” noted the PSA. The projections provided are only indicative, based on a statistical model, says the disclaimer by the team.