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Infection with COVID-19 higher than first thought

World Health Organization WHO introduced new official name for Coronavirus disease named COVID-19. COVID-19 deaths illustrative. COVID-19 lockdown illustration. Deaths from COVID-19 illustration. COVID-19 pandemic concept. Image credit: quatrox / 123rf. infection with covid-19 concept
Image credit: quatrox / 123rf

Many more Indians may have experienced infection with COVID-19 than first thought, new research suggest.

A source claiming direct knowledge of a serological survey conducted by the Union Government said the current confirmed caseload in the country may be many times higher than reported. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) conducted the survey.

Such findings are not new. In October last year, Health Issues India reported on an ICMR study which indicated that “more than sixty million people in India –  ten times the official figure – could have contracted the novel coronavirus.” As we noted at the time

“Determining an actual figure without rigorous testing of the entire population is all but impossible. Current research is also heavily conflicted regarding the ratios of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. Such disparities in figures and research has been a hallmark of the pandemic, often the result of hastily conducted research as a means of understanding the rapidly-changing situation regarding COVID-19.’

According to Worldometer, India has confirmed in excess of ten million cases of COVID-19 thus far of which more than 155,000 are active. The serological survey from the government, by contrast, signals that 21.5 percent of the population at large and 25.7 percent of healthcare workers may have experienced infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19. In August and September of last year by contrast, an ICMR serological study suggested one in fifteen people had COVID-19 antibodies.

In Delhi alone, more than half of residents are thought to have been exposed to infection with COVID-19. A serological survey found 56.13 percent presented with COVID-19 antibodies according to state health minister Satyender Jain. 

These estimates are more conservative than a previous study, conducted by a private entity. As reported by Livemint, “separate tests done on more than 700,000 people across India by diagnostics company Thyrocare Technologies showed 55 percent of the population may have already been infected.” The figures could mean the country is approaching herd immunity. 

In related news, India’s response to the pandemic recently received a poor rating. In a ranking of the pandemic responses of 98 countries, India ranked 86th. It scored 24.3 – substantially lower than the score of the Asia Pacific region member countries as a whole, at 58.2.

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