Number of recovered cases 1.75 times the active cases: Health Ministry

A health worker collects swab sample for Covid-19 rapid antigen testing, at Community Centre, Bhim Nagar, in Gurugram.
The health ministry said on Thursday that more than 80 per cent of Covid cases in India are concentrated in 49 districts. It ruled out the possibility of community transmission, even as the country registered the highest single-day spike of over 24,000 cases, taking India’s total count to over 767,000. 

Addressing a press briefing on Covid-related updates after almost a month, the health ministry also stressed that cases and deaths per million were among the lowest in India at 538 and 15, respectively, and the recovered cases were 1.75 times the number of active ones in the country. 

Deaths per million are 40 times higher in Spain and the UK, Ministry of Health’s Officer on Special Duty Rajesh Bhushan said. More than half the Covid deaths in India are in the 60-plus age group, which accounts for 10 per cent of the total population. 

Bhushan said the findings of the sero survey to study the spread of the contagion through antibody tests conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will be released after a peer review is over and a new pan-Indian study is undertaken by the organisation.  A sero prevalence study has also been conducted in Delhi across 11 districts by the National Centre for Disease Control. The study, where nearly 22,000 samples were collected from June 27 to July 5 and tested through 15 labs, will be released soon. 

On the ICMR’s letter on speeding up trials for Bharat Biotech’s vaccine and launching it by August 15, Bhushan said the intent of the letter was to expedite the availability of the vaccine for citizens without compromising on its quality.  

There are over 100 vaccine candidates in the world — two in India have developed a vaccine, including Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR, and Cadila Healthcare. Both have completed animal toxicity study and got nod to move ahead with Phase 1 and 2 trials.

“We want to fast-track the vaccine. We should not miss the bus. A vaccine after two years will not be of any use. This was the spirit behind the letter,” said Nivedita Gupta, scientist, ICMR.

The health ministry is also in touch with the World Health Organization on the evolving evidence on the airborne nature of Covid-19. “We have been asking people to adopt Covid-appropriate behaviour... it is a dynamic situation and we will also refine our response, as as scientific evidence comes to fore,” said Bhushan. 

On the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s latest model that has predicted India could see over 287,000 cases per day by 2021 if no vaccine or treatment becomes available, Bhushan said the mathematical models do not take into account the efforts and interventions taken by governments and communities.


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