Infections not fully captured, need to broaden coronavirus test criterion

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Published: April 9, 2020 2:45:42 AM

The report by the state’s public health department, however, points out that 76% of those who tested positive were ‘asymptomatic’, that is, they didn’t show any sign of being infected.

Another fact that suggests the infection data is not being fully captured is the high fatality rates in some states.Another fact that suggests the infection data is not being fully captured is the high fatality rates in some states.

With just 4% of those being tested for the coronavirus testing positive, compared to 18-20% in the US and countries in Europe, one view is that India seems to be less affected. News from Maharashtra may, however, busts that myth.

The report by the state’s public health department, however, points out that 76% of those who tested positive were ‘asymptomatic’, that is, they didn’t show any sign of being infected. Right now, testing is being done on people who exhibit signs of corona infection, but the Maharashtra report suggests that if testing is extended to people who don’t have any symptoms, the infection rates could rise.

By how much is not clear since it is also possible that those who have an infection may not necessarily show the symptoms immediately — the incubation period for the virus is up to 14 days — and it is not clear if the health authorities are tracking them for the entire duration.

Another fact that suggests the infection data is not being fully captured is the high fatality rates in some states.

While fatality rates are influenced by local factors such as the presence of age- or disease-profile of citizens, ideally the fatality rate should be somewhat close to the country’s average or the global average. In India, the fatality rate is 3% with 162 deaths of the 5,345 people who were infected. This ratio, however, rises to 8.9% in the case of Gujarat, 9.1% for Punjab, 7.2% for Madhya Pradesh and 6.3% for Maharashtra. It is this type of analysis that, for instance, led to the government considering some areas in Gujarat as coronavirus hotspots some days ago.

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