NEW DELHI: Covid-19 pandemic has peaked in India in mid-September (Sept 17) and active cases could fall below 40,000 by February 2021 if sufficient protective measures continue, said a central government constituted committee of experts Sunday.
The committee was constituted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to evolve a national supermodel for Covid-19 progression on June 1, 2020. The scientific members of the committee include Professor M Vidyasagar, FRS (IIT Hyderabad, chairman), Professor M Agrawal (IIT Kanpur), Professor B Bagchi (IISc Bangalore), Professor A Bose (ISI Kolkata), Dr G Kang, FRS (CMC Vellore), Lt Gen M Kanitkar (Dy Chief, Integrated Defence Staff (Medical), and Professor S K Pal (ISI Kolkata).
The panel warned that upcoming festival seasons may increase the susceptibility to infection and relaxation in protective measures can lead to about 26 lakh infections within a month.
The panel said there is some evidence that large gatherings cause rapid spread. "Kerala celebrated Onam festival between Aug 22 and Sep 2 and numbers have risen from Sep 8 by 32 per cent. The effectiveness of medical response dropped by 22 per cent for Kerala," it added.
According to the committee, the initial lockdown (March 25) saved large number of lives and delaying it would have caused more difficulties.
Labour migration in May-June did not cause any sharp rise in Covid cases, the panel further said. "There could have been significant adverse impact had migration been permitted before lockdown," according to the model.
"All activities can be resumed provided they are done with proper safety protocols. If all of us follow these protocols, the pandemic can be controlled by early next year with fewer active symptomatic infections than 40,000 by February end," it said.
The committee said that based on its modelling, 30 per cent population projected to have antibodies at present and cumulative mortality is projected to be less than 0.04 per cent of the total infected.
The mandate of the committee was to create an evidence-based mathematical model for the pandemic -- after taking inputs from various groups working in the domain in the country -- and use it to analyze the past events and future trajectories of the pandemic.
The projections assessed timing of the lockdown, alternative lockdown scenarios, impact of migrant workers returning to their homes, and future course of the pandemic including impact of not following safety protocols.