Covid-19 peak in India may arrive mid-Nov: Study

Paucity of ICU beds, ventilators likely

New Delhi, Jun 14 (PTI):
The peak stage of COVID-19 pandemic in India has been delayed by the eight-week lockdown along with strengthened public health measures and it may now arrive around mid-November during which there could be a paucity of isolation and ICU beds, and ventilators, according to a study.
The study conducted by researchers from an Operations Research Group constituted by ICMR said the lockdown shifted the peak of the pandemic by an estimated 34 to 76 days and helped bring down the number of infections by 69 to 97 per cent thereby allowing time for the healthcare system to shore up resources and infrastructure.
In the scenario of intensified public health measures with 60 per cent effectiveness after lockdown, the demand can be met until the first week of November. After that, isolation beds could be inadequate for 5.4 months, ICU beds for 4.6 and ventilators for 3.9 months, projections by the health researchers showed.
However, this shortfall is estimated to be 83 per cent less than what it could have been without the lockdown and public health measures.
With sustained government steps at increasing the infrastructure and different pace of epidemic in different regions, the impact of unmet need can be reduced. If the coverage of public health measures can be increased to 80 per cent, the epidemic can be mitigated, the researchers stated.
According to the model-based analysis for COVID-19 pandemic in India, with the additional capacity which has been built up for testing, treating and isolating patients during the lockdown period, the number of cases at the peak would come down by 70 per cent and the cumulative cases may come down by nearly 27 per cent.
In terms of COVID-19 mortality, approximately 60 per cent deaths were prevented and one-third of this mortality prevention is attributed to the reduction in unmet need for critical care as a result of the intervention, the analysis showed.
The researchers said the management of COVID-19 will involve a dynamic review of policies and significant strengthening of the healthcare system.
“While lockdowns will delay the onset of peak and will give the much needed time for the health system to respond, strengthening the health system response in terms of testing, isolation of cases, treatment and contact tracing, as is being done currently, will have to be the mainstay to reduce the impact of the pandemic in India until vaccine becomes available,” it said.
The overall economic health system cost of this pandemic is estimated to be 6.2 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP).

What study says

In the scenario of intensified public health measures with 60 per cent effectiveness after lockdown, the demand can be met until the first week of November. After that, isolation beds could be inadequate for 5.4 months, ICU beds for 4.6 and ventilators for 3.9 months, projections by the health researchers showed. However, this shortfall is estimated to be 83 per cent less than what it could have been without the lockdown and public health measures.

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