Context:Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi have recently developed a web-based dashboard PRACRITI for predicting the spread of COVID-19 in India.
About PRACRITI (PRediction and Assessment of CoRona Infections and Transmission in India)
- It is a mobile-friendly web based dashboard.
- It gives detailed State-wise and district-wise predictions of COVID-19 cases in India for a three-week period.
- Predictions are updated on a weekly basis.
- It provides the R0 values of each district and State by using data available from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA), and the World Health Organization(WHO).
- It also accounts for the effect of different lockdown scenarios such as the
- Effect of locking down district boundaries
- Implementing different levels of lockdown within a district.
- Effect of movement of population across district/State borders in the spread of COVID-19.
Significance of PRACRITI platform
- It will be highly useful for healthcare organisations as well as local and central authorities to efficiently plan for different future scenarios and resource allocation.
- Availability of RO
- Key parameter of interest on COVID-19 is the basic reproduction number (R0) and its countrywide variability.
- Getting the district-wise R0 value is crucial as this will enable authorities to know the exact rate of spread in India locally.
- Aid to the planning process:
- A three-week prediction provided by the dashboard can be of immense help to policymakers for planning strategic interventions for controlling COVID-19 spread.
About the mathematical figure ‘R0’
- It is the rate at which a virus is transmitted.
- It is also called the basic reproduction number, it indicates the average number of people who will contract the virus from a person who has already been infected, in a population that does not have immunity for the said disease.
- Mathematical representation:
- R0 is the division of the number of new infections by the number of existing infections, or the average number of new infections over an infectious period.
R0= New Infections/Existing Infections
- Infectious period
- It depends on the virus,which can be a few weeks, months, or even decades.
- The virus is assumed to be introduced to a population that does not have herd immunity or vaccination against it.
- Range of R0 :
- When the R0 is 1, it means the number of infected persons in a population is constant. For every person who is cured of the disease or dies due to it, there will be one fresh case in the population.
- Range of R0 for eradicating a diseases:
- The ideal scenario is when the R0 is below 1.
- This means the infection is transmitted to fewer people. When such a rate is maintained over a considerable period of time, the disease is eradicated.
- Methods of reducing the R0 value
- Disease transmission is not fixed, and the rate can be reduced by pharmaceutical interventions (like vaccines) or non-pharmaceutical interventions (screenings, lockdowns), or both.
- R0 for the COVID-19
- World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated the R0 for coronavirus at 1.4 to 2.5
Other initiatives by IIT Delhi
Coronavirus test kit:
- This is the first probe-free assay for COVID-19 approved by the ICMR and it will be useful for specific and affordable high throughput testing.
- This test kit is based on swab testing.
- The assay has been validated at the ICMR with a sensitivity and specificity of 100 per cent.
- This makes IIT-Delhi the first academic institute to have obtained ICMR approval for a real-time PCR-based diagnostic assay.
- It will be useful for specific and affordable high throughput testing.
- This assay can be easily scaled up as it does not require fluorescent probes.
Serological Test/ Rapid Test
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
These are blood-based tests that can be used to identify whether people have been exposed to a particular pathogen by observing the development of antibodies.
It is done after taking nasal or throat swabs of the patient, from which RNA is extracted and converted to DNA, which is then amplified before being checked for confirmation of the virus.
Report comes in 30 minutes
Report comes after 9 hours.
Not possible as it takes 7-10 days for the antibodies to develop
Possible as it is a standard test for COVID -19 identification and not dependent on antibodies formation
Less efficient as after this PCR needs to be conducted anyways
More efficient as it ensures certainty of disease