New Delhi: India’s effective reproduction number (R) for Covid — an indicator of how quickly the infection is spreading — has shot up to 1.96. This is the highest R value recorded in the country during the pandemic so far.
The number is considerably higher than values seen in early 2020, when Covid prevention protocols were not in place, mask mandates had not been implemented, and the population was unvaccinated.
According to Sitabhra Sinha, a researcher at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, who has been tracking R value for the country since the beginning of the pandemic, the highest reported R for India was 1.83 in April 2020. However, within weeks of the first nationwide lockdown imposed in March 2020, the R value had fallen.
Even at the peak of the second Covid wave in India last year, the value of R was 1.31 in April 2021.
However, as the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads across the country, the R value in several states have shot up to their highest levels, between 30 December and 4 January.
State of states
Among the states, the highest R value has been reported from Bihar, where the figure has risen to a staggering 6.0. This is also the highest R value reported from any state through the course of the pandemic. Barely a week ago, the R in Bihar was around 2.35.
The adjoining state of Jharkhand also has a high R value of 5.38, up from 2.09.
In Delhi, where R was 1.3 at the end of last month, the value has jumped to 4.63 — the highest so far. The national capital has been reporting a fast spread, with 10,986 active cases reported Monday.
The states of Haryana and Punjab also have high R values of 3.53 and 3.43, respectively. While Haryana’s R was 1.97 in the week before 27 December, Punjab’s was 0.91.
Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Rajasthan all have R over 3 — 3.04, 3.06, and 3.36, respectively.
Maharashtra, which has over 56,117 active cases as of Monday, saw its R rise to 2.96 from 1.08.
The R values of Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Uttarakhand are at 2.11, 2.52 and 2.76, respectively. Tamil Nadu, where R was less than 1 last week, is now at 1.55.
Telangana, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh all have values over 1.
Kerala is the only state with a high burden of active cases that has R under 1 at 0.92, although the value is still an increase from the previously reported 0.87.