Antibodies found in more than 23% of Indian capital’s residents
Almost a quarter of people in the Indian capital of Delhi have been infected with the coronavirus, according to scientists, raising fears there could be many more cases in the country of 1.3 billion people.
Random testing of more than 20,000 people in Delhi by India’s national disease control centre found that 23.48% had antibodies to the virus. Adjusting for false positives and negatives, it was estimated that 22.86% of the population had been infected, Sujeet Kumar Singh, who heads the institute, said on Tuesday.
Delhi, which has a population of 29 million, has officially reported 123,747 cases and 3,663 deaths, AP reported. The study, however, indicates more than 6.6 million likely cases, with most not identified or tested.
More than 1 million in India have already been infected with the disease, which is spreading quickly through the country’s population. Latest figures from Johns Hopkins University showed that there were 37,000 new cases on Monday, only a slight fall on Sunday’s record high of more than 40,000.
It is the third worst-affected nation in the world, behind the United States (3.9 million cases) and Brazil (2.16 million). But compared to those two countries and to global averages, the percentage of the Indian population that has died from the virus is significantly lower. The national death toll rose to 28,084 on Tuesday, with the number of recoveries at 724,577.
Experts suspect that many virus deaths, especially among the elderly, are not being picked up in official fatality numbers. Testing is even more limited outside the capital.
Jayaprakash Muliyil, an epidemiologist at the Christian Medical College in the southern Indian city of Vellore, who is advising the government on virus surveillance, noted that the survey results produced by the national disease centre were an average and the percentage of people infected could be much higher in certain areas, such as slums. “You need to look at different clusters,” he said.