‘Lockdown prevented 37,000-78,000 deaths’


NEW DELHI: Seeking to underline the benefits of the lockdown that have been questioned in some quarters, the Centre on Friday presented various models that indicated India may have averted an estimated 14-29 lakh Covid-19 cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths due to the infection.
Presenting the analysis of the first two phases of lockdown, Niti Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul, said restrictions had significantly reduced the speed at which the virus was spreading.
“On April 3, we had 22.6% new cases per day, the behaviour of the virus was exponential. But after April 4, there was a clear slowing down and it has now settled at 5.5%,” he said. The lockdown was imposed on March 25, and Paul said it took a time lag for its effects to show up in terms of a declining rate of infection.
Besides slowing the spread of the disease, the lockdown allowed the government to line up resources in terms of health infrastructure and medical workers, increased medical supplies and gain experience in containment measures. It also shortened the wait for potential drugs, vaccines and treatment besides stepping up research, Dr Paul said.
Sharing the projections of a no-lockdown scenario, Praveen Shrivastava, secretary, ministry of statistics, planning and programme implementation, cited models including ones prepared by Boston Consulting Group, Public Health Foundation of India, independent economists and researchers as well as by the ministry itself in partnership with Indian Statistical Institute.
According to BCG, 36 lakh-70 lakh cases and 1.2-2.1 lakh deaths may have been averted due to lockdown while PHFI estimated that 78,000 deaths were avoided.
Two independent economists estimated that 23 lakh cases and 68,000 deaths could have been averted, whereas some retired scientists and epidemiologists put it at 15.9 lakh cases and 51,000 deaths averted. Modelling by the statistics ministry and ISI found that 20 lakh cases and 54,000 deaths were averted.
“While the gains of the lockdown have been that a large number of deaths and cases have been averted, it also meant that much fewer people spread the infection,” Dr Paul said, adding that this was a significant gain.


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