Covid-19 can be controlled by Feb 2021 if preventive measures are followed: Report2 min read . Updated: 18 Oct 2020, 05:51 PM IST
- ''If India had waited until May to impose the lockdown, the peak load of active cases would have been around 50 lakhs by June''
India can control the spread of the pandemic with minimal active symptomatic cases by February-end in 2021, if preventive measures are followed, India National Supermodel committee on covid-19 said Sunday. The covid-19 tally of world’s second most populous country, with 1.3 billion people, attained its peak in September.
The Committee, appointed by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), simulated what would have happened in hypothetical alternative scenarios with regard to the timing of covid-induced lockdowns.
“With no lockdown, the pandemic would have hit India very hard, with a peak load of more than 140 lakh cases arriving in June. Given our lack of preparedness back then, the healthcare system would have been overwhelmed, leading to many additional deaths," said Professor M. Vidyasagar at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad.
The committee said that if India had waited until May to impose the lockdown, the peak load of active cases would have been around 50 lakhs by June. According to the mathematical supermodel findings, in actuality, the peak of active cases came in late September at around 10 lakhs. “By this time, we were far better equipped to handle the pandemic in terms of diagnostics and vital equipment inventories. Therefore, the imposition of an early and comprehensive lockdown pushed the peak of cases far into the future and also reduced the peak load on the system. In short, the lockdown “flattened the curve," Vidyasagar said.
The scientists did an analysis of the actual deaths from the pandemic with various alternative scenarios. They concluded that without a lockdown, the number of deaths in India would have been overwhelmingly high, more than 26 lakh. Imposing the lockdown in May would have reduced deaths to around 10 lakhs. The prompt imposition of the lockdown on March 24 has kept the death toll at about 1 lakh so far, the scientists said.
India has one-sixth of the world’s population (one-fifth excluding China), and one sixth of the reported cases. However, India accounts for only 10% of the world’s deaths, and its case fatality rate of less than 2% is among the lowest in the world.
“We do not yet know the weather-specific perturbations of this pandemic. In general, viruses tend to be more active in colder environment and the effects of possible future mutations in the virus," said Vidyasagar.
In addition, based on temporal profiles of analysis done for Bihar and UP, the Committee concluded that the impact of labour migration on the total number of infections in these states was minimal.
Amidst the upcoming festival season, the committee strongly recommended that the existing personal safety protocols need to continue in full measure. Otherwise the country will see a sharp rise in infections.
“Avoiding congestion especially in closed spaces and special care of those above 65 years and children is even more significant. Personnel with co-morbidities need to be extra cautious," Vidyasagar said. The committee has said that fresh lockdowns should not be imposed on a district and state wide levels, unless there is imminent danger of the healthcare facilities being overwhelmed.
On 1 June, the DST constituted a committee comprising of eminent scientists and academicians to evolve a national supermodel for Covid-19 progression. The Committee will continue to work on many other issues concerning the current pandemic forecasting, as well as continue to develop robust models for the future pandemics if any so that the decision-making processes are fast tracked when the need arises without a lag time.