Half of the Indians might have had contracted COVID-19 by Feb 2021: Govt. panel

The infections could rise in India as the holiday season nears, with celebrations for the festivals of Durga Puja and Diwali.

Mumbai: The impact of the novel coronavirus has continued to disrupt the lives of people on a global scale. While the attempt to contain the spread of the deadly virus continues, there’s yet another possibility of a second wave that looms over the world.

A member of a federal government committee tasked with providing projections that over 1.3 billion people are likely to have been infected with the new coronavirus by next February, that is the half of the country’s population.

India has so far reported 7.55 million cases of the coronavirus and is second only to the United States in terms of total infections.

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But COVID-19 infections are decreasing in India after a peak in mid-September, with 61,390 new cases reported on average each day, according to a Reuters tally.

Acoording to Mahindra Agarwal, who is a professor at the Indian Institute for Technology in Kanpur and a committee member, the country’s 30% of the population is currently infected and it could go up to 50% by February.

The committee’s estimate for the current spread of the virus is much higher than the federal government’s serological surveys, which showed that only around 14 per cent of the population had been infected, as of September.

But Agrawal said serological surveys might not be able to get sampling absolutely correct because of the sheer size of the population that they were surveying.

Instead, the committee of virologists, scientists and other experts, whose report was made public on Sunday, has relied on a mathematical model.

“We have evolved a new model which explicitly takes into account unreported cases, so we can divide infected people into two categories – reported cases and infections that do not get reported,” Agrawal said.

The committee warned that their projections would not hold up if precautions were not followed, and cases could spike by up to 2.6 million infections in a single month if measures such as social distancing and wearing masks were ignored.

Experts have warned that infections could rise in India as the holiday season nears, with celebrations for the festivals of Durga Puja and Diwali which are this month and in mid-November, respectively.

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