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Over 9-cr infected, Sero-Survey shows PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 September 2020 00:00
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This means India has more infections than even US which has 3-cr based on its last Sero-Survey

 

There has been a 10-fold hike in the number of adult Indians infected with Covid-19 over the past three-and-a-half months (see graphic), from around 64 lakh in the first sero-survey to 6.3 crore in the second one; once you include those in the 10-18 age-group, included in the second survey for the first time, the number of those infected rises to 9.1 crore, or 6.6% of the above-10 population.

The second all-India sero-survey was done between August 17 and September 22 while the first one was done between May 11 and June 4. A sero-survey is a scientifically chosen random sample – that represents the entire population of the country – whose blood is tested for Covid-19 antibodies; since such antibodies last for a few months after the infection, the survey results give the number of those who were infected in the last few months.

Infection levels are much higher in urban-slums where 15.6% of those above the age of 10 are infected; the number is 8.2% for non-slums in urban areas and 4.4% for rural areas.

Infection levels are also much higher for select cities. The latest sero-survey, in September, for Puducherry showed 22.7% of the population was infected, it was 7.8% for Indore (August), 29.1% for Delhi (August), 21.5% for Chennai (July), 17.6% for Ahmedabad (June-July) and 33% for Mumbai (57.8% for slums and 17.4% for non-slums) based on the survey done in June-July.

While India has the world’s second-highest number of infections based on the daily test data, the sero-survey suggests India already has the most cases. On September 22, the day the sero-survey ended, the daily test data suggested India had 5.6 million infections versus 6.9 million for the US. Based on the sero-survey, that is far more reliable, India has 9 crore infected persons versus 3.1 crore for the US where the latest sero-survey indicates 9.3% of the population is infected.

The good news here is that, with a lot more persons infected than the daily tests data shows, fatality rates of the disease are far lower than what is commonly believed. Till September 22, India reported a total of 89,000 deaths, so with 5.6 million infections, this meant a case-fatality rate of 1.6%. If, however, the 89,000 deaths is divided by the 9+ crore infections that India actually has – based on the sero-survey data – the fatality rates are a much lower 0.1%. Even at these death rates and infection rates, though, India is already experiencing a shortage of ICU beds and ventilators in many cities and also of oxygen as adequate health infrastructure was not built during the lockdown period – or the months after it – in most parts of the country.

While the government is celebrating the fact that India is reporting more ‘recoveries’ every day than the number of fresh infections – this was done at the same press conference where the sero-survey data was presented – a rapid jump in testing, using RT-PCR rather than the less effective RAT tests, will result in a massive jump in infection levels. On September 22, the daily tests data showed India had 5.6 million infected as compared to the 9.1 crore revealed by the sero-survey; in other words, a ramp up in testing could see the number of infections rising more than 16 times.

 

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