India may record about 2.87 lakh projected cases of the novel coronavirus per day by the end of winter 2021 in the absence of a Covid-19 vaccine or drug interventions, according to a modeling study by the researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Using data for 84 countries with reliable testing data — spanning 4.75 billion people — the researchers developed a dynamic epidemiological model.
In a preprint paper, MIT professors Hazhir Rahmandad and John Sterman, and Ph.D. candidate Tse Yang Lim, noted that the top ten countries by projected daily infection rates at the end of winter 2021 are India with 2.87 lakh infections per day, followed by the US, South Africa, Iran, Indonesia, the UK, Nigeria, Turkey, France, and Germany. However, they noted that the projections are highly sensitive to assumed testing, behavioral, and policy responses, and as such, they should be interpreted as indicators of potential risk and not precise predictions of future cases.
The researchers added that more rigorous testing and reductions in contacts in response to risk perception will significantly reduce future cases while laxer response and normalization of risks can lead to overwhelming breakouts. By making additional assumptions on future testing and responses, the researchers said the model can inform future trajectories. “We explore a few projections out to spring 2021 that exclude vaccine and treatment availability,” said the researchers. The researchers considered projections under three scenarios: 1. Using the current country-specific testing rates and response functions moving forward, 2. If enhanced testing — of 0.1 percent a day — is adopted on July 1 and 3. If the sensitivity of the contact rate to perceived risk is set to 8, leaving testing at current levels.