A bit of good pandemic news
According to a government panel of experts, India crossed its peak in September. More importantly, if Indians stick to social distancing rules, the pandemic will run its course by February. And the total number of cases will not cross 10.6 million (the current number is around 7.5 million).
So what changed? The panel doesn’t have a clear answer, but two likely hypotheses:
One: The disease is being spread by a smaller set of ‘super-spreaders’—who have already been infected and now have become immune. They pointed to a Tamil Nadu study that found over 60,000 of the 85,000 confirmed cases never passed on the infection to others. OTOH, less than 10% of the cases were the cause for 60% of secondary infections.
Two: These ‘super spreaders’ are simply those who have a large number of interactions with a large number of people. Most of us interact with at best 10-15 others in our inner circles—and the disease has run its course within those cliques.
Point to note: This doesn’t mean we are out of the woods. Our experience could be similar to many European countries where the numbers dropped—only to rise sharply months later. This is likely to happen when we drop our guard and start interacting with larger sets of strangers—like folks in Kolkata who are swarming to malls during Pujo season.
Good related watch: Japanese researchers used a supercomputer to show how the virus spreads when eating at the dinner table.
Happier related watch: The Flaming Lips perform at a very ‘bubbly’ and safe concert.
Two related deep dives: One: National Geographic reports on the mysterious and severe symptoms affecting children with Covid. These were once mistaken for Kawasaki disease. But now doctors have figured out the real cause: the spread of the virus to the gut. Two: Bloomberg News looks at questions about adenovirus-based vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson—both of which had to halt their human trials recently.
A quick IPL update