Official number of positive COVID-19 cases in India just tip of the iceberg?

The study has assessed that only 6 per cent of the actual COVID 19 cases are detected globally and this figure varies significantly across the countries.

Published: 21st April 2020 02:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2020 11:47 AM   |  A+A-

Health workers wearing protective suits walk on a street during their door-to-door survey to detect COVID-19 positive cases amid a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in Kolkata Monday April 20 2020. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: India may have over 1.32 lakh coronavirus patients as on Monday—nearly 7 times the official figure of less than 18,000 cases—as per a calculation based on age-specific infection fatality rate and deaths reported in the country so far.

The calculation has been developed by two German scientists who have estimated the overall mortality rate due to the infection in India to be 0.41 per cent—much less than the official figure of over 3 per cent.

These scientists have estimated that a much lesser number of people who are actually infected are getting tested.

The study has assessed that only 6 per cent of the actual COVID 19 cases are detected globally and this figure varies significantly across the countries.

The detection rate in India could have been less than 17 per cent on March 31, it said.

The calculations developed by the researchers associated with the University of Gottingen have relied on another research by the Imperial College, London—published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases—which found that only two datasets of detection of COVID-19 cases were actually truly representative of the population anywhere.

The study analysed these datasets to determine age-specific mortality rates for COVID-19 and also revealed that the actual number of cases is way higher than cases detected in most countries as nations have restricted testing to mostly symptomatic people.

“The daily reports of numbers of cases and are not particularly revealing because there at currently no representative testing anywhere in the world,” said the paper by the German researchers.

The researchers took age-specific mortality rates to calculate the expected mortality rate in 40 other countries with the significant outbreak, including India and based on their population structure estimated that overall death rate here could be just around 0.41 per cent—only marginally higher than seasonal flu.

“For most developing countries, the mortality rate is below 0.5 per cent… while it is significantly higher for countries like Italy and Germany that have higher older age structure,” the researchers noted.

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