New Delhi: The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India could last until the end of May, a research report released by the State Bank of India (SBI) said, adding that the country could see an addition of 25 lakh cases during this period.
Based on trends seen during the first wave, the report predicted new cases could peak in mid-April before starting to fall. It also pointed out that India is better off in the second wave as compared to the first due to the availability of vaccines this time around.
“Considering the number of days from the current level of daily new cases to the peak level during the first wave, India might reach the peak in the second half of April. The entire duration of 2nd wave might last upto 100 days counted from 15-Feb,” said the report released Thursday.
Concerns over economic hit
With cases again starting to rise by the end of February, there are concerns now that the second wave could impact India’s fragile economic recovery.
The Indian economy is forecast to contract by 7.7 per cent in the current fiscal but see a rebound next year growing by over 11 per cent.
The SBI Research report pointed out that some indicators are reflecting the economic stress brought about by the localised lockdowns announced by some states to battle the pandemic.
“Business activity Index based on high frequency indicators has declined in the recent week ending 22 Mar’21 with the latest value at 101.7 (the lowest in a month) from 104.6 in the previous week,” the report said.
It added that Google mobility — an index that measures trends of people’s visits to places like grocery stores, restaurants and shopping centres — has declined in many states, like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh due to lockdowns but without leading to a reduction in the Covid cases.
India’s largest state by economic contribution, Maharashtra, accounts for the majority of the new cases reported every day. As of 25 March, India had over 3.95 lakh active cases of Covid.
“Localised lockdowns/restrictions have not resulted in controlling the spread of infection. This is visible in case of many states including Maharashtra and Punjab,” the report said, stressing that increasing the speed of vaccination is the only way to win the battle against Covid pandemic.
Over two months since it first rolled out the vaccination drive, India has so far vaccinated 5.31 crore people in the country, according to the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Looking to increase the pace of the vaccination, the government had announced this week that all people above the age of 45 will now be eligible to receive the Covid vaccine in India.
“If we assume more people are willing to take vaccines and the daily vaccine inoculation increases to 40-45 lakhs from the current maximum level of 34 lakhs, then with this capacity we can vaccinate our population above 45 years in 4 months from now,” the SBI report said.