This model by IIT, defence scientists says that India may report less than 1000 COVID cases a day by mid-August

The SUTRA model had accurately predicted when India would hit the peak of the second wave of COVID. Here's all about it
Image for representation | Pic: Express
Image for representation | Pic: Express

There is some good news for India. If the vaccinations are administered properly, if the restrictions are followed well, if the population chooses to not socialise extensively without their masks and if there are no more mutant versions of the Coronavirus, the country will report less than 1000 COVID cases a day by the second week of August. This is what the SUTRA (Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive), and Removed Approach) mathematical model developed by three Indian scientists says.

SUTRA is the brainchild of Manindra Agrawal a Professor of IIT Kanpur, Madhuri Kanitkar, Deputy Chief, Integrated Defense Staff and M Vidyasagar, a Professor of IIT Hyderabad. The trio were members of a committee formed by the Ministry of Science and Technology last year to predict the COVID peak. SUTRA is however their independent project.

Upon entering their website, one gets to see a graph with two curves, one that represents the actual data and the other that shows the data that the model had predicted. Shockingly, the two are almost similar until now. According to SUTRA, India's COVID curve was supposed to peak on May 3, while in reality, it peaked five days later, on May 8.

The three scientists are currently working virtually and Agarwal says that it is not tough for them. The model is dependent on the data that the government reports. "Upon analysing it, we found that there is a lot of underreporting and lack of testing. The data was very random. However, it had enough information, despite its shortcomings," he says, adding that the model's predictions may change depending on multiple parameters.

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"The current prediction says that the cases will reduce significantly in the next few months if the parameters remain as it is today," he says. However, he adds that lockdown doesn't play much of a role here. "If the cases come down, lockdowns can be lifted easily. If things stay more or less this way, what is predicted in the model will be the future," he adds.

Does the model predict the third wave? Agarwal says that that depends on how fast we vaccinate the population. "That will vaccinate the effect of a third wave of the virus. But what may pose as a challenge if a mutant that escapes the vaccines gets developed," he cautions.

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