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Coronavirus outbreak: ICMR refutes the study that claimed COVID-19 peak may arrive in India in mid-November

The reports further claimed that the lockdown postponed the peak by an estimated 34 days to 76 days and helped curb the rising infection by between 69 per cent to 97 per cent, providing ample time for the authorities to prop up resources and health infrastructure.

The premier medical research body of India, ICMR has strongly refuted the reports that were carried by several media organisations that the peak of Wuhan coronavirus will arrive in India in mid-November. Issuing a tweet in this regard from its official Twitter handle, the ICMR asserted that the news reports that attributed an ‘ICMR study’ to claim the arrival of COVID-19 peak in mid-November are false and misleading.

“The news reports attributing this study to ICMR are misleading. This refers to a non peer reviewed modelling, not carried out by ICMR and does not reflect the official position of ICMR,” while sharing a snip of a PTI article that attributed a study to the ICMR to contend that the affliction of coronavirus in India will reach a climax in mid-November.

False claims by news outlets

The clarification issued by ICMR came amidst a flurry of reports by various news outlets which said the coronavirus crisis in the country would reach the highest point somewhere in mid-November. The reports cited by news organisations said that according to a study conducted by researchers from an operations research group constituted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in India has been delayed by eight-weeks due to strict implementation of lockdown, cautioning that the peak of the COVID-19 contagion can now arrive in mid-November amidst an acute shortage of ICU beds and ventilators.

The reports further claimed that the lockdown postponed the peak by an estimated 34 days to 76 days and helped curb the rising infection by between 69 per cent to 97 per cent, providing ample time for the authorities to prop up resources and health infrastructure.

In the case of intensifying public health measures with 60 per cent effectiveness following the lockdown, the demand for health facilities can be met until the first week of November, the ‘study’ said. Furthermore, it said that after the first week of November, there could be a scarcity of isolation beds for 5.4 months, ICU beds for 4.6 months and ventilators for 3.9 months. However, it added that the shortages were reckoned to be 83 per cent less than what it could have been in absence of stringent implementation of lockdown and augmented public health measures.

Study contained errors

According to the sources, the study carried some errors and was not validated by the ICMR. For example, the study modelled that India will be affected by 5,29,872 coronavirus cases till May 6, after the end of six weeks of lockdown, which were 47 per cent of the estimated cases in scenario of lockdown with 40 per cent effectiveness. However, according to the data from the health ministry, only 3.32 lakh cases were registered till then, much lower than the model suggested.

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