Our Supreme Court has directed the Central and state governments to consider imposing a ban on mass gatherings and super spreader events. “We would seriously urge the Central and State governments to consider imposing a ban on mass gatherings and super spreader events. They may also consider imposing a lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare,” the SC said.
Let us understand that the national lockdown in the first Chinese Wuhan Virus Wave was to create the requisite infrastructure and capacity to ensure that the country does not go into a crisis and the 7-day moving average (7DMA) of infection does not increase the stipulated doubling rate of 1 day. Moreover, the cost of lockdown to the economy for a single day of lockdown is around USD 6.0 billion (INR 45,000 crores approx).
In the second wave, the issues are different. We have our 7DMA of infections is much lower and the doubling rate is much higher. Moreover, as the immunization drive picks up, we will see the two parameters of 7DMA and doubling rate become even more manageable.
So the issue in front of us is, should we impose a complete lockdown and for how long taking cognizance of the Supreme Court directives.
How Far Are We From the Peak in this Second Wave?
In order to arrive at a predictable view of how long should India and its states go into a lockdown and even out the daily economic losses to the country, there are several parameters which we need to consider:
- Second Covid Wave in 12 countries before India
- Second Covid Wave Peaks in Different States and Cities in India
- Covid Immunisation strategy
Second Covid Wave in 12 Countries before India
we can learn from the other countries which have gone through the second wave before India. Based on the learnings from these countries, our Central and State Governments can work out a formula to impose lockdowns and unlockdowns without hurting the economic activity in the country. The table below gives out the duration of the second wave (in days) and % of population that was infected during the Second Wave:
While it is pretty apparent that each country reacted to the second wave differently. The chart below shows how effectively did each of the 12 countries manage the second wave.
Mexico, Turkey, Israel has the second wave duration of less than 100-days, while Germany and Canada had a duration of over 200 days. The peak of the Second Wave was around 120 days (ie 4 months) as an average). The average population that was infected in these 12 countries was around 2.5%.
This is valuable information and analysis for us to predict where India is in the second wave.
Second Covid Wave Peaks in Different States and Cities in India
Maharashtra including Mumbai was the first state to begin with the Second Wave in India. It has already seen the peak and is around the global average of around mid-point of the 120 days wave (ie. 60 days). We will see India as a country peaking by mid-June 2021, unless we solve all the infrastructure and logistical nightmares which some cities like Delhi is undergoing.
The other silverlining is that many other Indian cities are already in their peaks. An interesting analysis by IIT Kanpur Prof Manindra Agrawal shows.
Covid Immunisation Strategy
As I have already written, our Covid immunisation strategy needs to be reworked. It’s not the political compulsions and broad headlines. We need to immunize over 15% of our population by Mid-May 2021 which we have not yet achieved and most likely going to miss the target for the total duration of the second wave and the imposition of nation wide lockdown durations to recede.
Therefore, the opportunity costs for the country in reducing the duration of the lockdown in the second wave is huge provided we implement our covid vaccine immunization strategy and coverage astutely. Invest, invest, invest in immunizations and make it free for all as an incentive. The rest the statistics at the end to the lockdown will reveal.
No Courts in the World Bear the Economic Outcomes of the Country based on their Judgement!