A government-appointed committee has said that India has surpassed the coronovirus peak and predicted that the epidemic could be brought under control early next year if all measures are followed. But the onset of winter and upcoming festivals may increase susceptibility to infection and at this point senescence may again cause a spike. Waivers in safeguards can lead to significant increases. “It could be up to 26 lakh cases a month,” the committee said, adding that only 30 percent of the population could develop immunity.
The committee underlined that protective measures should continue. “If all protocols are followed, the epidemic can be controlled by early February next year with the least active cases,” the panel concludes.
By the time the epidemic ends, the total number of infections may be around 105 million (10.5 million). The current figure is 7.5 million.
The committee said that in the absence of lockdown in March, India’s total deaths by August this year could be more than 2.5 million. Currently, the country has recorded 1.14 lakh plagues.
However, lockdowns are now undesirable and should only occur in narrow geographic areas. The country, the panel said, should now move towards resuming activities.
There is some evidence that large gatherings spread rapidly, the committee pointed to Kerala, where it observed a sharp increase on 8 September after celebrating the Onam festival from 22 August to 2 September. The likelihood of infection rose by 32 percent and the effectiveness of the medical response to Kerala was reduced by 22 percent in September, the committee said.
The committee was appointed to come out with an “Indian National Supermodel” – a mathematical model for Kovid-19 – that could shed light on the possible trajectory of the epidemic in India. Its members are from the branches of the IIT and the Indian Council of Medical Research, which are the country’s nodal bodies in the fight against coronoviruses.