A government-appointed committee said India had passed the peak of the coronavirus and predicted the outbreak could be brought under control early next year if all measures were followed. But the onset of winter and upcoming festivals can increase susceptibility to infection, and laxity at this point can lead to a spike again. Relaxing security measures can lead to a significant increase. It can go up to “up to 26 lakh cases per month,” the committee said, adding that only 30 percent of the population had developed immunity so far.
The committee stressed that protective measures must continue. “If all protocols are followed, the pandemic can be brought under control early next year with a minimum of active cases by the end of February,” the panel concluded.
The total number of infections at the end of the epidemic could be around 105 lakh (10.5 million). The current figure is 75 lakh.
Without a lockdown in March, the total death toll in India could have exceeded 25 lakh in August this year, the committee said. Currently, the country has recorded 1.14 lakh deaths.
Locks, however, are no longer desirable and should only be in place in narrow geographic areas. The country, the panel said, is now expected to move towards a full resumption of activities.
There is evidence that large gatherings cause rapid spread, the committee said, pointing to Kerala, where after the celebration of the Onam festival from August 22 to September 2, a sharp increase was seen on September 8. the effectiveness of the medical response fell 22% for Kerala in September, the committee said.
The committee has been appointed to come out with “Indian National Supermodel” – a mathematical model for Covid-19 – which may shed light on the likely trajectory of the pandemic in India. Its members are drawn from IITs and branches of the Indian Council for Medical Research, the country’s nodal body in the fight against the coronavirus.