By Krishna N. Das and Chris Thomas
NEW DELHI, February 2 (Reuters) – More than half of New Delhi’s 20 million people may have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a government serological survey, the results of which echoed previous research in the private sector.
India has reported 10.8 million COVID-19 infections, the most anywhere outside the United States. But Tuesday’s survey, based on some 28,000 samples, suggests the actual figure among its 1.35 billion people is considerably higher and is approaching herd immunity levels.
“In the fifth serological survey carried out in the national capital of Delhi, antibodies (coronavirus) were detected in 56.13% of the city’s population,” Delhi Minister of Health Satyendar Jain said on Twitter after publication of the report.
Separate tests carried out on more than 700,000 people across India by diagnostic company Thyrocare Technologies showed that 55% of the population may have already been infected, its chief told Reuters last week. The World Health Organization says at least 60% to 70% of a population must be immune to break the chain of transmission, although Indian officials have said lowering the level can also slow the spread of the virus. . said New Delhi had largely beaten COVID and that daily cases and deaths in India fell to their lowest level in eight months on Tuesday.
Overall, it has reported 154,486 deaths from COVID, giving the country a relatively low death rate.
One factor is the country’s low average age, according to medical experts. Two wealthy states with relatively elderly populations – Kerala with 3,459 cases and Maharashtra with 1,948 – now account for nearly 70% of new infections.
India has vaccinated nearly 4 million people since mid-January, when it launched what the government touts as the world‘s largest vaccination campaign, which aims to immunize over 300 million people from here August.