More than 60 million Indians may have caught coronavirus

Henrietta Strickland
October 1, 2020

Chief of the ICMR Balram Bhargava on Tuesday said the second sero survey collected blood samples from 29,082 individuals across the same 700 villages and urban wards from 70 districts in 21 states which were covered in the first survey.

The observed time-to-death after the diagnosis is shorter than the average of 13 days reported from the U.S. or at least two weeks from China and indicates that a substantial proportion of patients in the two states were diagnosed late.

Till the second week of September, the state was reporting more than 10,000 cases every day, the second highest in the country after Maharashtra, but after that there has been a steady reduction in the daily numbers, which have reached a level of about 6,000 now.

The survey results mean more than 90 per cent of Indians are still vulnerable to the virus because they have not yet been exposed to it.

There are numerous reasons for this: People simply aren't getting tested enough.

Maharashtra, the most affected state overall, has reported a net addition of 14,976 cases.

Slum residents had a seroprevalence - meaning they carried antibodies - of 15.6%, nearly double the 8.2% detected in residents of non-slum urban areas.

Bhargava said evidence of virus exposure was more prevalent among people tested in urban slums (15.6 percent) and non-slum urban areas (8.2 percent) than in rural areas, where 4.4 percent of those surveyed had antibodies.

The survey shows how important it is for the Indian public to continue taking coronavirus precautions like social distancing and personal hygiene, especially during Diwali, the festival of lights. "That is very, very essential".

Experts have long suspected that the number of cases in India may be vastly underreported.

Only about 82 of every 100,000 people in India are being tested per day, according to Johns Hopkins University - compared to about 284 in the U.S. and 329 in the United Kingdom.

"All the other countries test two times, three times, 10 times what India is testing", community medicine specialist Dr. Hemant Shewade told CNN earlier this month.

According to the scientists, including Ramanan Laxminarayan from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy in New Delhi, the findings offer a peek into the pandemic's trajectory in a low- and middle-income country, where most COVID-19 cases have occurred. But coronavirus deaths, too, are likely being undercounted. And only 22% of all registered deaths get an official cause of death, certified by a doctor, Shewade said.

India's COVID-19 caseload mounted to 62,25,763 on Wednesday with80,472 infections being reported in a day, while the death toll climbed to 97,497 with 1,179 people succumbing to the disease during the same period. On Tuesday, it reported more than 10,000 new cases for the first time. But they say it is also possible the oldest people in India enjoy a "survivability bias" rooted in a socio-economic advantage, reflected by their survival to very old age in a country where life expectancy is 69 years, compared with 77 years in China, 79 years in the United States and 83 years in Italy. "They don't exactly give you a straight count, just so you understand".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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