New Delhi: The actual COVID-19 infections in India may be around 17 times higher than the official figure, a study led by researchers at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) suggests. According to government data, nearly 4.5 crore people in India have been infected with COVID-19 so far. However, the study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases (IJID) estimated that the actual coronavirus cases in the country may be between 58 to 98 crores.
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The research “has shown that the actual corona infection in India was at least 17 times higher,” according to a statement by BHU.
BHU geneticist Professor Gyaneshwer Chaubey said,
The discrepancy observed in our study is due to the overwhelming number of asymptomatic people, which was several-fold higher than the true official infection.
“Asymptomatic cases were more inclined towards the younger population,” Professor Chaubey, who led the study, told PTI.
The study involved 88 scientists from 34 research institutes across the country.
The team conducted serosurvey (antibody testing) among 2,301 individuals in urban areas of fourteen Indian districts in six states during the month of September-December 2020.
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The most striking aspect of this study was that a large proportion of the Indian population was asymptomatic for COVID infection and the age group 26-35 had the maximum number of asymptomatic people, the researchers said.
Antibody tests in people after any coronavirus wave accurately assesses the actual infection, they said.
The team conducted the research among a large number of people — street vendors — living in urban areas from fourteen Indian districts who are most at risk of corona infection.
BHU’s Prajjval Pratap Singh, the study’s first author, said,
For the first time, we have used a novel approach to estimate the frequency of people infected in a certain geographical region.
Samples were taken of only those people who self-reported that they never had any Covid symptoms or positive RT PCR test.
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The minimum proportion of antibody-positive people was observed in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh (2 per cent), while the maximum proportion of antibody-positive persons was found in Ghazipur district (47 per cent) of Uttar Pradesh.
The research also revealed that the cases reported by the government were several times lower than the actual incidence of infection.
Through mathematical calculations, it was estimated that the actual corona cases in India are between 58 to 98 crores, the researchers said.
Professor VN Mishra from BHU, who led the medical testing in the study, said,
The extensive serosurveillance has enabled us to have a clear picture rather than antigen testing or RT-PCR test.
India on Wednesday recorded 96 fresh COVID-19 cases, while the number of active cases increased to 1,785, according to Union health ministry data.
With the new cases, the total tally stands at 4.46 crore (4,46,83,639). The death toll increased to 5,30,746 with one death reported from Uttar Pradesh, the data stated.
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(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.