What the new surge in coronavirus cases in Maharashtra means to India’s Covid trajectory

Maharshtra has been witnessing spike in covid cases for a week now

Just when India breathed a sigh of relief that the pandemic curve has finally flattened, Coronavirus in Maharashtra witnessed a sudden spike in daily cases. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data, Maharashtra on Friday witnessed 6,112 new cases, a steep rise from 3,600 cases a week ago. Uttarakhand has imposed travel restrictions from Maharashtra as well.

The second wave for s pandemic is nothing new for a state in India. Delhi has witnessed three distinct waves with each having a higher peak than the previous one. Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have also seen multiple periods of growth and then subsequent slowdown in the rate of contamination of Covid infection.

But this trend in Mumbai is different from other states for several reasons. Here’s why

Unlike other states, in Maharashtra, the resurgence came after a prolonged slowdown of the rate of infection from almost five months. All the Indian states, except for Kerala saw a fall in daily cases during the period.

Since no other country witnesses such a quiet, sustained slowdown for quite a period of time, the sudden spike of cases is worrisome, although not unusual as according to the epidemic scientists, resurgences even after a year is not unusual.

Maharashtra driving resurgence of Covid in India

Maharashtra was once the worst-hit state in the country, accounting for a little less than 20 per cent of India’s Covid-19 caseload. As Maharashtra’s trajectory mirror India’s curve, the sudden rise in cases will influence India’s Covid performance as well and for the worse, it has already begun to happen.

The number of new coronavirus cases in India has risen every day last week except for on Sunday. The active number of cases has also begun to rise for the first time regularly since September. Kerala even with high numbers of cases has not influenced Indi’s trajectory as Maharashtra is doing now.

Participation of new variants in the sudden resurgence of Covid cases

Evidence supporting new Covid variants from countries like the UK and South Africa to have triggered the spike is few. Though genome sequencing of new cases has not been of the desired level, new variants were so far detected only in isolated cases. However, chances of new variants taking precedence in future cannot be ruled out either.

‘Herd immunity’ not yet attained

The resurgences indicated that talks of herd immunity that results of serosurvey showed were premature. Fall in numbers since October made many to believe that a significant part of the population has attained ‘herd immunity’. Had the population attained herd immunity, then the number of uninfected people who could have potentially got infected would have declined without a resurgence.

Even though lifting off the lockdown restriction, resumption of social gathering, restarting of local trains and poor levels of masking levels have added to the rise in numbers the cases, but the reasons are not enough. Bihar, for instance, saw an election campaign when the pandemic was at its peak. There have been political rallies in West Bengal and Assam and yet in these states, the numbers are declining consistently like in other states.

The very different trajectories in the rise and decline of Covid cases in different states show that the pandemic is not yet over and there is a lot left for the experts to decipher about the nature and behaviour of the novel coronavirus.

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