Editorial

Covid19.. Data Vs Fact

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) last month published a paper. According to the paper based on a sero-survey conducted in May-June 2020, the actual prevalence of Covid-19 might be 80 to 100 times higher. For every pothole that we observe, there are 80 to 100 more that we do not. So, if the cumulative positive cases in India officially stand at 6.7 million (or 67 lakh) today, in reality, there probably are between 536 million (53.6 crore) to 670 million (67 crore) people who have already been infected. That’s between 39 per cent and 48 per cent of India’s population, and approaching herd immunity levels. The slowdown in the number of new cases since 17 September, despite higher levels of testing, supports the argument that the coronavirus has run through half the population of the country. The epidemic ends when around 70 per cent of the population has antibodies, which means another 303 million (30.3 crore) to 427 million (42.7 crore) people remain vulnerable to the disease over the next six months, says expert. According to them that the pandemic will end by mid-March 2021, more or less consistent with my COBOTE estimate of end-February 2021. In any case, the Narendra Modi government estimates  that 250 million (25 crore) people will be vaccinated by July next year. The upshot is that while the end of the Covid-19 pandemic might now well be in sight, we must raise the level of caution to minimise the new infections and deaths until then. The reopening of schools, cinema halls, religious places and public transport under progressive “Unlocks” can cause a resurgence in the number of cases. With hospitals and health care facilities already maxed out, the next few months can portend greater human tragedy than we have so far seen. The need for caution, for stricter adherence to masking and social distancing, and for avoiding non-essential gatherings is as great as ever.

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