BENGALURU: While there has been enough scientific evidence that the country will inevitably face further waves of the coronavirus pandemic, experts say that India should have its own planning tool like the one used by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA.
“Every country needs to step up pandemic preparedness to detect and contain the transmission in the early stages proactively. The CDC’s planning tools are impressive. India can have similar tools that can include several scenarios, surge tools and forecasts to prepare for the future waves,” said Dr Giridhara R Babu, renowned epidemiologist and member of Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee.
“Models developed using the data available can help evaluate the potential effects of different community mitigation strategies. The planning scenarios may also be useful for hospitals in assessing resource needs,” states the publicly available document by CDC on the planning scenarios.
However, India needs to come up with its own scenarios, explains Dr Babu. An ideal scenario is to prevent and detect a large outbreak from happening at the local level, without waiting for the intervention from the state or central level in any block in any part of the country, he feels.
“To have such a robust civil system, it is essential to hire front line workers and strengthen the surveillance platform systems for enhancing the syndromic approach in the country. Having different scenarios will help understand the range of diverse possibilities and offer flexibility to scale up the preparedness for mounting prompt and appropriate responses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof Sashikumar Ganesan and Prof Deepak Subramani from the Department of CDS at IISc have come up with similar scenarios to predict the surge, the preparedness the states have to undertake and various parameters one could look into even in terms of prevention.
Prof Sashikumar said, “With three scenarios — no lockdown, 50 per cent and 100 per cent effectiveness of the lockdown — using parameters as confirmed cases, active cases, recoveries and deceased, it has been explained in detail with projections for the state government to prepare for future waves.”
According to him, the prediction of active cases will help the state prepare for the healthcare in terms of manpower and infrastructure to be stepped up, while confirmed cases will help BBMP and district officials to know the worst scenarios and how they should be containing the further surge.
The recoveries will help the government for post-Covid care and the data on the deceased will definitely help in assessing the cause of death and how to prevent it. He explained that the state should not stop testing and the testing levels will have to be uniformly and consistently high to be able to detect clusters at the earliest. Genome sequencing is another important tool to predict future waves.
Rather than depending on one or two models, the government should use some ensemble approach and synthesise the evidence from all the projections to develop different scenarios, experts said.