Covid-19, fewer infections: New Delhi questions its immunity

Data on coronavirus infections are at a minimum, especially in the capital, although there is more uncertainty in Mumbai. Serological testing show that there was a very wide circulation of the virus. Doctor Carvalho: “Immunity is widespread. Even without following the rules, most are willing to take a chance with the hope that they will be among the 95% who will recover without great problems."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - While many nations are grappling with a second wave of Covid-19, India has reported the lowest levels in the spread of the coronavirus. Although appearing on the top of the list statistically speaking on the overall data since the beginning of the pandemic, the average of new daily cases in the last week has dropped to around 10 thousand and the deaths even below 100.

Half of Indian states no longer report victims and on Tuesday New Delhi, long the national epicentre, for the first time reported no deaths related to Covid-19. The situation in Mumbai appears more complex: in the city there are currently 500 new cases per day and it is estimated that they are only 10 or 15% of the real number. There has been no track or trace of the chain of infections and little news on the variants of the virus, while so far only 1% of the population of the metropolis have been vaccinated, almost all exclusively health workers.

A serological survey conducted on a sample of the Indian population showed that the circulation of the virus was widespread: antibodies were found in 21% of adults and 25% of children; a figure that rises to 31% in the slums and in some cities such as New Delhi or Pune even to 50%. These numbers would indicate a strong immune response that would have protected the Indian population.

However, even the approximately 150,000 deaths recorded so far, when compared to the total number of inhabitants, correspond to a mortality rate of 112 people per million, considerably lower than in the countries of Europe and North America.

"Correct analysis could be made only if everyone was tested, which is logistically highly challenging- Dr. Pascoal Carvalho, member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said to AsiaNews. “In general, there is a reluctance among the population to go to hospitals for any check-up as it could mean isolation and loss of income, besides all medical expenses involved. Not all have medical insurance coverage.”

“In spite of strict norms for social distancing, sanitisation and use of face masks-  continues Dr. Carvalho - most people are unable to comply with them due to lack of adequate space in their homes or the need to work. Obviously, what counts is the real number of victims, net of other previous diseases. And for the Indian population it is too low to justify any special measures”.

Father Christopher Jeyakumar, parish priest of the church of Sant'Antonio in the poor district of Dharavi in ​​Mumbai, also underlines the disproportion between rules and daily reality. “In church we are continuing to follow all the directives of the government and the archdiocese - he explains to AsiaNews - but immediately outside no one puts these protocols into practice and there is still no problem with Covid-19 here in Dharavi. I wonder if science isn't fooling us”.

“Immunity can be a factor; it has always been here - continues Father Jeyakumar - If we look at the mortality statistics over the years, the rates remain constant. Even before Covid-19 there were never any particular peaks. It would therefore be time for those who govern us and draw up the protocols to really deal with the facts”. (N.M.)