The Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday disowned a study that said India would reach its peak of coronavirus cases only by mid-November, claiming that it did not carry out the research.
“The news reports attributing this study to ICMR are misleading,” the council said. “This refers to a non-peer reviewed modelling, not carried out by ICMR and does not reflect the official position of ICMR.”
According to a PTI report, the study was conducted by researchers from an Operations Research Group constituted by ICMR. The researchers said that the eight-week nationwide lockdown, which began on March 25, delayed the peak of the pandemic by an estimated 34 to 76 days and helped reduce the number of infections by 69% to 97%.
This has allowed the healthcare system to improve its capabilities to fight the pandemic, the study said. The study added that if public health measures to contain the virus are 60% effective, the healthcare system will hold up till the first week of November. However, it added: “After that, isolation beds could be inadequate for 5.4 months, ICU beds for 4.6 and ventilators for 3.9 months, projections by the health researchers showed.”
But this shortfall is estimated to be 83% less than what it could have been without the lockdown and public health measures such as physical distancing, the researchers concluded. “While lockdowns will delay the onset of peak...strengthening the health system response in terms of testing, isolation of cases, treatment and contact tracing...will have to be the mainstay to reduce the impact of the pandemic in India until vaccine becomes available,” the researchers added.
The study also revealed that the overall economic cost of the pandemic is around 6.2% of the Gross Domestic Product.
There continues to be a steady rise in the number of daily new cases of Covid-19 in India, despite a reduction in the growth rate and the number of recoveries exceeding the number of active cases. On Monday, India reported 11,502 new infections and 325 deaths, taking the country’s tally to 3,32,424. The overall toll is 9,520.
On June 9, ICMR had dismissed media reports based on another survey, that showed that up to one-third of the people living in containment zones and hotspots may have already been infected with Covid-19 and may have also recovered. The survey had claimed that the spread of the infection was so widespread in some districts that even containment efforts had failed to curb the outbreak.
However, the council called the findings of the sero survey “speculative” and said that “survey results [are] yet to be finalised”.