India’s effective ‘R’ value, or the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading, has gone above 1.0 for the first time in three months, according to a researcher from Chennai’s Institute of Mathematical Sciences. It was 1.07 for the period April 12-18 – up from 0.93 for April 5-11. The number has been increasing steadily, the researcher said. The last time the ‘R’ value was above 1.0 was between January 16-22.
The administration must be wary of the ‘R’ factor as increase in it above 1.0 is an indicator of spread of covid-19.
As per scientists, it represents an important concept in epidemiology and is a crucial part of public health planning during an outbreak. Scientists use the ‘R’ factor to describe the intensity of an infectious disease outbreak. The ‘R’ factor estimates have been an important part of characterizing pandemics. The formal definition of a disease’s R factor is the number of cases, on average, an infected person will cause during their infectious period.
Since one can’t actually identify the moment any one individual is infected, scientists usually work backwards, using data like number of deaths, hospital admissions and, of course, the number of samples testing positive for Covid-19.
Among the reasons for caution are the fact the ‘R’ can spike up and down even when case numbers are low. Importantly, since it is an average for a population, it could hide localised variations that may be key. In such a scenario, the people lowering the guard and not keeping due adherence to covid-19 appropriate behavior present ominous tidings.
There is a need to increase COVID-19 testing with renewed vigor as it is extremely essential for an early identification of cases and checking the virus spread.
There is also a need to guard against complacency and laxity. Efforts must be stepped up to prevent any probable future surge. It is important that the gains made by the cumulative effect of vaccination and enforcement of the Covid protocol cannot be squandered.