A central government panel has projected that at least half of India’s population may have had the coronavirus by February, Reuters reported on Monday.
“Our mathematical model estimates that around 30% of the population is currently infected and it could go up to 50% by February,” Manindra Agrawal, a member of the expert committee tasked with providing coronavirus-related projections told Reuters.
The committee’s projection is much higher than other government estimates. The Indian Council of Medical Research had in September unveiled the findings of the second serological survey, which showed that one in 15 people aged over 10 years may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the end of August.
Agarwal, however, said that serological surveys may not be correct about sampling, since they consider a huge population size. Serological surveys are supposed to show the number of people that may have been infected with the coronavirus in an area. However, they do not show how many are immune to the virus. It is still unclear how long antibodies last in those infected and how many antibodies are required to protect a person from reinfection.
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The report of the expert committee was made public on Sunday. It said that the coronavirus pandemic has peaked in India, and predicted that it will end by February. The panel said the country is likely to have 10.6 million (106 lakh) active cases by then.
The expert committee stressed on the need to continue protective measures against the virus. The committee said that had India not imposed a countrywide lockdown in March, the virus could have claimed over 25 lakh lives by now.
The committee was appointed by Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India K Vijay Raghavan to coordinate efforts made by agencies, scientists and regulatory bodies, and take swift decisions on research and development against the disease. Professor M Vidyasagar of the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, leads the panel.
India saw a surge in the months of July and August. It is seeing a slower pace of coronavirus spread after mid-September, when the daily infections touched a record of 97,894. Experts, however, warn that festival season and the winter could exacerbate the health crisis.
India’s tally of coronavirus cases rose to 75,50,273 on Monday with 55,722 new cases in 24 hours, the lowest in five days. The country’s toll rose by 579 to 1,14,610 – lowest in nearly four months. India’s active cases stood at 7,72,055, while the recoveries reached 66,63,608. The recovery rate stood at 88.26% and the mortality rate was 1.52%.