An article by Ranjan and colleagues (not yet peer reviewed and available as a pre-print doi describes the grim reality of the second wave of COVID-19 in India. Every day the number of infected people doubles. The exponential increase suggests that the infection rate is higher this time.

As if the news wasn’t bad enough, Dr. Marissa Carter took a second look at the group’s data, penciling in the case rates for the last five days on their SIRS model. She’s worried that the situation is even worse than they believe. Here’s what she said:

“I’ve penciled in the case rates for the last 5 days on their SIRS model and their model is wrong. It frightens me for 2 reasons: (a) we’ve never seen this kind of exponential curve and associated mortality curve (look at Figure 1a/b in their paper); (b) I am worried that the number of cases will be so overwhelming it will set off the conditions for the next generation of strains. I am concerned particularly about the B1617 double mutant, which is causing this outbreak.

Already we have seen a new strain emerge from B1617 in India—B1618—which also has the infamous E484 mutation in the spike protein. Current vaccines are likely to be far less effective against this variant and immunity from earlier strains will not stop re-infection with this strain in many cases. Even more worrisome, a recent paper from India showed that the vast majority of deaths (90%) a few months ago were associated with a mutation in the NSP 12 gene (323(p to L)). The NSP (non-structural protein) is basically the virus’ complex RNA polymerase. I think this mutation makes viral replication far more efficient and lethal.”

Here’s a link to her most recent blog on COVID-19. We aren’t out of the woods, folks. If you are waffling on getting the vaccine, now is the time to get it.