An official checks the temperature of a voter as part of precaution against COVID-19 as she arrives to cast her vote for the Punjab State Assembly elections on the outskirts of Amritsar. (Photo: AP)
New Delhi: The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India may start around June 22 and peak from mid to late August, a modelling study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur suggests.
The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, recently posted on the preprint repository MedRxiv, used a statistical model to make the prediction, finding that the possible new wave will last for four months.
The study led by Sabara Parshad Rajeshbhai, Subhra Sankar Dhar, and Shalabh of IIT Kanpur's Department of Mathematics and Statistics shows that the severity of the fourth wave will depend on the emergence of a possible new coronavirus variant, and vaccination status across the country.
"The data indicates that the fourth wave of COVID-19 in India will arrive after 936 days from the initial data availability date, which is January 30, 2020," the authors of the study said.
"Therefore, the fourth wave starts from June 22, 2022, reaching its peak on August 23, 2022, and ends on October 24, 2022," they wrote in the research paper.
However, the researchers noted that there is always a fair chance that a possible new variant of coronavirus may have an intense impact on the whole analysis.
The impact will depend on the various factors like the variant's infectibility, fatality, etc, they said.
"Apart from this fact, the effect of vaccinations -- first, second or booster dosage may also play a significant role on the possibility of infection, degree of infection and various issues related to the fourth wave," the authors said.
Officials at the World Health Organization recently warned that Omicron may not be the last Covid variant and the next strain could be more contagious.
"The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating," said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's COVID-19 technical lead.
The same research team had previously predicted that the third wave of the pandemic in India would peak by February 3, 2022.
That research studied the trend of the Omicron-led surge in COVID-19 cases in other countries and predicted that India too will witness a similar trajectory.
In the current study, the researchers applied the statistical methodology to COVID-19 data from India to forecast the occurrence of the fourth wave in the country.
"This methodology can also be used to forecast the fourth and other waves in other countries also," they said.
The researchers noted that many countries have already witnessed the third wave of COVID-19, and a few countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe have started to face the fourth and higher waves of the pandemic.
"The third wave of COVID-19 was predicted for India using the data of Zimbabwe, and when the third wave in India is finishing, it is now clear that the forecast was correct," the authors added.
The single-day rise in coronavirus infections fell below 10,000 after two months, with 8,013 cases taking India's total tally to 4,29,24,130, according to Union health ministry data updated on Monday.