The fact that the ‘R’ value has risen to greater than 1 in several states around the same time suggests that this rise in active Covid-19 cases is coordinated, said Professor Sitabhra Sinha.
- The estimated ‘R’ value over July 27-31 period is 1.03
- Experts also point to rising active cases in Kerala, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and HP
- An ‘R’ value of 1 means a Covid patient will, on average, infect at least one more person
The ‘R’ value of SARS-CoV-2 in India has crossed 1 for the first time since May 7, as per the findings of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai. Also known as the R0 or ‘R’ factor, this data point represents the number of people one Covid-19 patient can infect on average.
Professor of computational biology and theoretical physics at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, Sitabhra Sinha told India Today, “R crossed 1 on July 27 for the first time after May 7 when the last wave had ended. The estimated R-value over the July 27-31 period is 1.03.”
Responding to a question by India Today last Tuesday, a top official of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) had confirmed that the ‘R’ value was touching 1.
In times of a pandemic, public health authorities target an ‘R’ value of less than 1. This move ensures that the virus will eventually stop spreading because it cannot infect enough people to sustain the outbreak.
An ‘R’ value of 1 means one Covid-19 patient will, on average, infect at least one more person. Similarly, an ‘R’ value lower than 1 indicates that a single patient is infecting less than one person on average.
States where ‘R’ value is worrisome
India has reported over 40,134 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 422 virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours.
With the exceptions of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura, the ‘R’ value remains higher than 1 in most northeastern states. Experts have also pointed to a worrying trend of rising active cases in Kerala, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.
The ‘R’ value is also nearing 1 in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Increase in the ‘R’ value in states points to a pattern
Asked whether this is worrisome from the point of view of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, Professor Sitabhra Sinha said, “Definitely. While it is true that the value becoming greater than 1 may just be a temporary event and it is possible that in the next few days it could again go back to being less than 1, the fact that R has also risen to greater than 1 in several states around the same time suggests that this rise in active cases is coordinated and systemic.”
The ‘R’ value for Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata also exceeded 1 around the same time, added Professor Sitabhra Sinha.
He went on to say, “Thus, a near-simultaneous transition from falling trend to the rising trend inactive cases in states as far apart as Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana – and not even bringing into the discussion the northeast where the second wave has not subsided till now – suggests what we are seeing may not be just a transient event.”
“We should wait for at least a week to make certain that what we are seeing is a sustained trend,” Professor Sitabhra Sinha said.