50% Indians Likely To Have Had Covid By Next February: Government Panel

Elias Hubbard
October 19, 2020

"Projections show that without the lockdown, active symptomatic cases would have peaked in June at 140 lakh overwhelming our hospitals; total symptomatic cases would have reached 204 lakh by February 2021 as against 106 lakh now estimated and deaths would have been over 26 lakh by August-end as against the current 1.1 lakh as of October", Vidyasagar said.

The committee, set up by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, has concluded in its assessment that the approaching festive season may increase susceptibility to the infection.

The committee, which included professors from IITs and IISc besides scientists, noted that the imposition of an early and comprehensive lockdown pushed the peak of cases far into the future and also reduced the peak load on the system.

- Relaxation in protective measures can lead to a significant rise: Up to 26 lakh infections within a month.

The committee, tasked to shed light on the likely trajectory of the pandemic in India, includes members from India's top scientific institutions including the Indian Council of Medical Research, the country's nodal body in the fight against the virus.

However, Niti Aayog Member Paul warned against complacency and said the possibility of a second wave of infections in winter can not be ruled out. "However, there are five states - Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal - and three to four Union Territories, where there is still a rising trend", he added.

Girls clean a 34-foot tall idol of Hindu goddess Durga at a temple in Gandhinagar Gujarat
Girls clean a 34-foot tall idol of Hindu goddess Durga at a temple in Gandhinagar Gujarat

With over 61,000 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, India's COVID-19 count on Sunday (October 18) crossed the 74 lakh-mark, while the death toll has topped the 1 lakh-mark as well. For long, there has been discussions as to when the country will attain its COVID-19 peak.

He is heading the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

It can be as much as "up to 26 lakh cases within a month", the panel said, adding that a second wave of coronavirus may hit India in winter as cooler temperatures help in the survival of respiratory viruses.

"We can not rule out (a second coronavirus wave this winter in India). That is a lesson we must learn from", Prof Agrawal said according to Indian Express. "One would be anxious that we could lose the gains that we have made".

He also cautioned against any complacency about the decline in the number of new cases and called for keeping up the efforts to contain the pandemic. According to a committee of scientists appointed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the infection has peaked last month and if people continue to take all precautionary measures, the vital transmission will take its due course till February next year. "This is in our hand, whether India has another wave or not is very much in our own hand", the Niti Aayog member said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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