India past coronavirus peak, festive season may cause spike: Panel
India likely crossed the peak of the coronavirus outbreak last month, a government-appointed panel has concluded. According to the panel, the number of infections will plateau further and the outbreak may be controlled by February-end 2021, provided all protocols are followed and the government does not relax activities further. The panel also claimed that 30% of India's population has developed antibodies against the coronavirus.
The Department of Science and Technology had constituted the panel in May. It comprises experts from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and branches of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The panel was tasked with helping monitor future transmission, aid decisions involving health system readiness, and other mitigation measures. It has released the 'Indian National Supermodel', a mathematical model for COVID-19.
'Death toll could've reached 25 lakh by August without lockdown'
The panel concluded that India crossed the COVID-19 peak in September when the nation was reporting nearly one lakh new infections a day. As of 8 am on Sunday, India reported 74,94,551 COVID-19 cases, with 61,871 new cases in the past 24 hours. The death toll is 1,14,031. Without a lockdown, the death toll could have reached 25 lakh by August.
Laxity may lead to 26 lakh cases a month
The panel warned against laxity during the winter months and the festive season. It noted that relaxations in safety measures could lead to a spike in infections with as many as 26 lakh cases a month. However, lockdowns are undesirable and should be imposed in narrow geographical areas, it said. By the time the outbreak ends, India could have 10.5 million cases, it projected.
Large gatherings caused spike in Kerala in September
The panel warned against violation of safety protocol, arguing that large gatherings for the celebration of Onam from August 22 to September 2 led to a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in Kerala. The infection probability increased by 32% and the effectiveness of medical response dropped by 22% in the state in September, the panel said.