A new health survey in India has indicated that more than 63 million Indian had been infected already by Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. According to health authorities the actual number of infected people in India is about 10 times the number of people who have been confirmed to have been infected.
The Indian Council of Medical Research conducted a national survey between milldle of August and middle of September of more than 29,000 people across 700 villages and wards of the country. The survey found that one in 15 people above the age of 10 years showed presence of antibodies against the coronavirus.
Also known as serology tests, antibody tests allow health officials to check for proteins called antibodies in the immune system. The presence of such antibodies is an indication of whether someone had been exposed to or infected by the virus.
According to the Indian government’s most recent census in 2011, out of the more than 1.3 billion citizens of India, more than 966 million are aged 10 years or more. Now considering the assumption in the survey of one in 15 in this age group being infected with Covid-19, the total number of people infected comes to 63.78 million people.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, India has reported more than 6.1 million cases and 96,000 deaths as of Wednesday.
Dr. Balram Bhargava, director of the medical council, at a news conference on Tuesday that the results of the survey indicate that against one Covid-19 infection reported officially in India, there were between 26 and 32 infected people who have not been tested.
This number is apparently in line with the anticipated number of Indians being infected by the pandemic according to experts who have been warning for months. It has been argued that the pandemic situation in India could be much worse than what is suggested by the official figures.
Experts say that a number of factors can be the reason for this. One is a lack of testing for people in the country or the simple fact that most of the infected do not show any signs of infection and therefore are not undergoing testing at all as only those with symptoms are advised to get tested for Covid-19. Further there can also be some irregularities in reporting and registering cases of the numbers could be affected by changes in government strategies and therefore a misleading situation is portrayed.
The tough restrictions imposed at the end of March by the Indian government to prevent the spread of the pandemic were gradually relaxed from May after a months-long lockdown. The government focused on reopening the economy and public services instead.
But experts, including Bhargava, warn that it’s too soon to relax.
(Adapted from CNN.com)