India's R-naught value recorded at 4 this week: What it means for 3rd wave

By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh
Jan 08, 2022 02:49 PM IST

R-value 4 means one infected person can transmit the virus to four others. This is the highest R-value India ever recorded,  an IIT Madras study said. 

India's R-naught value recorded at 4 in 1st week of 2022: What it means for 3rd wave

Delhi Police personnel stopping vehicles at a road checkpoint as Delhi is under a weekend curfew. (ANI)
Delhi Police personnel stopping vehicles at a road checkpoint as Delhi is under a weekend curfew. (ANI)

The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 has been the highest in the first week of January, India's R-naught value which indicates the spread of the infection revealed. According to a study by IIT Madras, the R-value was recorded at 4 this week, which is way above the R-value recorded ever in India.

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What is R-naught value? Why is this important?

The value indicated the number of people an infected person can spread the disease to. A value above 1 indicates that the pandemic is expanding as 1 suggests 1 infected person can infect another person. A value of 4 means one infected person can spread the infection to four people, which signifies that the transmission of the infection is huge.

Why is R-value 4 alarming?

According to the health ministry, the R-value was 1.69 during the peak of the second wave. Earlier this week, the ministry noted that India's R-value already breached the peak of the second wave and reached 2.69. IIT Madras analysis said the R-value was close to 2.9 nationally between December 25 and December 31. From January 1 to 6, the value was recorded at 4.

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Dr Jayant Jha, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, IIT Madras, told PTI that R-value depends on transmissibility probability, contact rate and the expected time interval in which infection can happen. The preliminary analysis has been done jointly by IIT Madras' Department of Mathematics and Centre of Excellence for Computational Mathematics and Data Science headed by Prof Neelesh S Upadhye and Prof S Sundar.

"Now, with the increase in quarantine measures or restrictions, maybe the contact rate will go down and then, in that case, R0 can decrease. So, based on our preliminary analysis, which is just based on the last two weeks, we can tell these numbers, but again, these numbers can change based on how much affirmative action is taken with respect to social gathering and all," he told PTI.

What it means for 3rd wave

Though the Centre has not termed the ongoing surge as the 3rd wave of the pandemic, it has acknowledged the exponential surge in the number of cases. State health ministers have said that the third wave has already set in. The IIT study predicts that the peak of the third wave will come between February 1 to 15.

The study has also shown that compared to previous waves, there will be a faster and sharper increase to the peak in this wave. However, the impact of the huge vaccine coverage will make this wave different, though now there are fewer restrictions compared to teh first wave when a national lockdown was imposed.

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