What is the COVID scenario looking like?
I am very happy to see the number of cases coming down countrywide from 400,000 a day to around 3.5 lakhs a day. I only hope this is not because of the rapid antigen test which can falsely bring down the number of cases. If that is ruled out, it is happy news for the country. 400,000 was the peak and we hope it will come down to as low as 40,000 in the early weeks of June. So this is a positive happening if it is not due to over usage of rapid antigen tests.
What has been your own experience in the cities where you are currently present?
The demand has come down compared to what was there in the early weeks of April. A severe lockdown has brought down the travel related load and according to me, the RT-PCR test has come down in the country and rapid antigen tests are being fully used. According to me, in some states like Goa, the positivity rate is possibly over 50 per cent. Mumbai is only 10-12% positive. Delhi is 20% positive.
The trend is very clear, the positivity is coming down but is it coming down as fast as the graph depicts or have we put some efforts to bring it down faster? That is something which I would not be able to tell, only ICMR will be able to answer that looking at the percentage of cases doing rapid antigen tests.
Are we likely to replicate what we did during the first wave at the same time last year?
No, last year, the first wave which peaked in September 2020 was uniformly picking up in metro cities and then going to tier-2 towns. Here it did not do so. When Mumbai was burning, Bangalore was cool, Calcutta was cool, Delhi was also cool then. So it is going step by step from one city to another city. According to me, both patterns are not equally comparable. The second wave is spreading much faster than the first wave. In fact, I keep asking people if this is the second wave at the first stage or is it the first wave at the second stage? It is very difficult to compare and still there are clear answers from sequencing which tells us that this is the second stage problem and it is not the second wave of the first stage.
Is the second COVID wave less than the first wave in terms of impact?
Today the RT PCR positivity is 400,000 compared to 100,000 in the first wave. So you can call it 1:4 is the RT PCR test usage. But if I look at Covid related blood markers, four or five of them are there. These markers compared to the first peak usage in the second peak is literally 25 times more, not just four times. The awareness of these markers have gone up and people are using them because of the severity of the second wave. It is very important to note that today, our revenues from non-Covid testing is 40%, 20% is from RT PCR and another 30% is from Covid-related blood infection markers which were not existing in the first wave as clearly as we see here.