It is true that India is facing a decline in Covid-19 cases…
- At one point India looked as though it might surpass US with highest case toll
- But now country is reporting 11,000 cases a day, compared to peak of 100,000
- Scientists have suggested some areas of India have reached herd immunity or that Indians may have some preexisting protection from the virus
PUBLISHED: 12:30 GMT, 16 February 2021 | UPDATED: 20:02 GMT, 16 February 2021
Scientists are trying to work out why coronavirus cases in India are falling when at one point it looked like the country might overtake the US as the worst-hit nation.
In September the country was reporting some 100,00 new cases per day, but that went into decline in October and is now sitting at around 10,000 per day – leaving experts struggling to explain why.
While the Indian government has been keen to put the apparent success down to its mask-wearing and social distancing laws, few believe these measures alone are responsible for the dip.
Instead, experts believe it may be down to the fact that India’s largest cities have reached herd immunity, meaning the virus has moved to rural areas where it spreads slower and where cases and deaths are far less likely to be tested and logged.
A recent survey found 56 per cent of people in Delhi – the country’s most-populous city – have Covid antibodies, which is likely to be an under-estimate with 70 per cent required for herd immunity.
Only around 20 per cent of deaths in India are medically certified – meaning 80 per cent do not have an official cause of death – with analysts warning the country may be under-counting its Covid fatalities by two or three times.
India also tests far less than developed nations, with medical experts warnings some states are relying on rapid lateral flow tests that give false-negative results.
The country also has a far younger population than many western nations – with an average age under 30 – and has far lower rates of obesity, which are both major factors in serious Covid infections and deaths.
Antibody surveys carried out in Mumbai, India’s second-largest city, and Pune also showed antibodies in around 50 per cent of the population, The Times reported.
‘The most densely-populated areas are already saturated and reaching the threshold of herd immunity, Giridhar Babu, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India, told the paper.
‘The virus has now spread to rural areas, but they are not so dense.’
Having a less-dense population means the virus spreads slower, which will naturally bring down daily case figures.
But with access to healthcare in rural India often lacking, it may also mean that many cases and deaths are going undetected.
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