More than 60 MILLION people in India may have already caught Covid-19, study finds – 10 times the official figure
- Indian government data claims country has 6.1 million coronavirus cases
- But serological survey by medical council says figure could be 10 times higher
- Blood antibody tests found larger proportion of people has fought off virus
- Prevalence was around 15.6% in urban slums and 8.2% in non-slum urban areas
According to official data India, home to 1.3 billion people, is the world’s second most infected nation, with more than 6.1 million cases, just behind the United States.
But the real figure could be 10 times the official figure, according to the latest serological survey – a study testing blood for certain antibodies to estimate the proportion of a population that has fought off the virus.
‘The main conclusions from this sero-survey are that one in 15 individuals aged more than 10 have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 by August,’ Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director-general Balram Bhargava said at a health ministry press conference.
More than 60 million people in India could have contracted the novel coronavirus, a new survery has shown. Pictured: Women wait for a rapid antigen detection test at a clinic in Misrod village in Bhopal
Bhargava said evidence of virus exposure was more prevalent among people tested in urban slums (15.6 percent) and non-slum urban areas (8.2 percent), than in rural areas, where 4.4 percent of those surveyed had antibodies.
The blood tests were collected from just over 29,000 people in 21 states or territories between mid-August and mid-September.
The new figures are a sharp jump from the first sero-survey results, which the ICMR said showed that around 0.73 percent of adults in India – about six million people – were infected by May.
Other antibody studies conducted in the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai have suggested more infections than the official numbers say.
People with heart conditions who recovered from Covid-19 prepare to go home during World Heart day celebrations at a hospital in Chennai
According to official data India, home to 1.3 billion people, is the world’s second most infected nation, with more than 6.1 million cases, just behind the United States. But the actual figure could be ten times higher
Scientists warn, however, that antibody tests should be treated with caution because they also pick up exposure to other coronaviruses, not just the one that causes Covid-19, the disease which has killed more than 1 million people worldwide since it emerged late last year.
India – which has one of the world’s most poorly funded healthcare systems – has gradually lifted a strict lockdown imposed in late March even as infections steadily climb, to revive its battered economy.
Earlier this month the Taj Mahal reopened with increased safety measures after it was closed down by the authorities for six months.
India has gradually lifted a strict lockdown imposed in late March. Pictured: The Taj Mahal reopened to reduced visitor numbers this week
Touching the white marble walls of the mausoleum built for a Mughal emperor’s favourite wife is no longer allowed.
Only 5,000 visitors will be able to visit daily – a quarter of usual capacity – and all have their temperature taken by staff wearing face shields, masks and gloves.
Visitors can whip off their masks for a photo, but security personnel are quick to remind them to put them back on once the shutter has been pressed.
And the famous bench where people usually sit to have their picture taken has been laminated in plastic, to help cleaning between every photo op.