India May Be Approaching Herd-Immunity Against CoVid-19 After Hitting 10 Million Confirmed Cases

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India May Be Approaching Herd-Immunity Against CoVid-19 After Hitting 10 Million Confirmed Cases

Photo: CoVid-19 testing in India, AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

India has reached a grim milestone in the nation's Covid-19 pandemic, officially recording over 10 million cases. While this number is startling, there is growing evidence that the number of infections is beginning to fall with some researchers pointing towards herd-immunity as the reason for the drop in cases.

The true number of CoVid-19 cases in India is thought to be vastly higher than 10 million and that it is possible that in reality, many hundreds-of-millions may have already had the disease. These individuals will therefore have built up a natural immunity that stops them catching CoVid-19 again and stops them from passing on the disease to others.

In much of India social-distancing and face-mask wearing has been minimal due to the levels of poverty in much of the country. Unlike in the West, where the infrastructure exists to allow people to work from home, and for the economy to continue to tick over during lockdown, many in the third-world live hand-to-mouth and therefore do not have the option of stopping work. Government programs are also far more difficult to put in place as most Indians do not have bank accounts and rely on the informal cash economy.

While infections in India reached a peaked in mid-September, with almost 100,000 cases being recorded daily, the daily numbers now being reported have fallen to around 25,000 a day. This perhaps indicates a growing number of those with natural immunity. The virus has killed over 145,000 people in India, but like the case number figures, the number of actual deaths is likely to be much higher.

Modelling by health authorities in the country has already indicated that around 60% of India has already been infected. India has a population of over 1.3 billion people. It is roughly estimated that in order for herd-immunity to take place, around 70% of the total population has to be infected, meaning at that stage the pandemic will eventually fizzle-out.

While the third-world and developing economies have been hit hard by the pandemic, their death rates have been much lower than in the developed West. This is largely because of the age demographics of those that make up these countries, with those living in the third-world likely to be much younger on average. As mortality and age is closely correlated in CoVid-19, this has meant higher death-rates in wealthier countries where the average person is much older.

Pradeep Awate, a senior health official, backed the idea that herd-immunity was setting-in in India. He said:

"Herd immunity is a huge part of it ... which is helping us to break the transmission."

Manindra Agrawal, a committee member and Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, weighed in with his views on the report that suggests India was achieving herd-immunity:

"If the model is correct, it is unlikely that a second wave will happen, because once 60% have immunity, nothing can cause another wave."

India is due to start a vaccination program later this month. In the United States, where there have been over 300,000 deaths from CoVid-19, it is thought that only around 20% of the population have been infected. Meaning that the nation would, in theory, have to experience the same levels of infection and death another 3 or 4 times over to also achieve herd-immunity.

It is widely hoped that as mass vaccinations take place this year, this will see an end to the pandemic that has reshaped all our lives.

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Thinking Humanity: India May Be Approaching Herd-Immunity Against CoVid-19 After Hitting 10 Million Confirmed Cases
India May Be Approaching Herd-Immunity Against CoVid-19 After Hitting 10 Million Confirmed Cases
India has reached a grim milestone in the nation’s Covid-19 pandemic, officially recording over 10 million cases. While this number if startling there
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