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COVID-19: Active cases drop in India as more regions show signs of herd immunity, says Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil

Updated : October 26, 2020 09:25 PM IST

Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee, National Institute of Epidemiology, Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, told CNBC-TV18 that a reduction in the number of new cases is "quite promising, exciting, and real".

At a time when the US and Europe are seeing a resurgence in coronavirus cases, India's active COVID-19 numbers have fallen for the 23rd day down to 6.5 lakh, the lowest level in two-and-a-half months.

With 480 new deaths, the death toll has risen to 1,19,014. Total cured cases are 71,37,229 with 59,105 new discharges in the last 24 hours.

Dr Muliyil said that the only explanation of the falling number of patients is that more regions across the country are now showing signs of herd immunity.

"The high level of immunity development in the population was expected with time," he said and added, "There is no other plausible explanation for the decline in the number of cases."

"Despite the lockdown, we have seen a steady trend in the formation of new cases," he pointed out.

India cannot have a lockdown like Australia, given our unequally developed population, he explained and stressed that while a section of the society carefully protected itself, the lower section could not. Hence, he suggested, the poorer section in the country reached a high level of immunity.

The affluent section, though, can afford to and should continue to protect itself against the virus, Dr Muliyil said.

He did not deny the possibility of a local outbreak, but noted that the chances of it qualifying as a wave are quite slim. For an outbreak to be termed as a wave, it needs a large number of susceptible people. But considering the levels of immunity the population has achieved, it is impossible to create a wave.

"While I am not expecting another huge wave in India, we still need to practise safety measures," he said and added, "It is improbable that we will see the second wave in India. And while some people can keep themselves locked until the vaccine arrives, India mostly cannot afford it."

India's mortality rate does not resemble that of Europe in any way, Dr Muliyil pointed out and explained, "This is an immunogenic virus, and we believe that immunity developed due to natural infection will be good. We are at liberty to prioritise the deployment of vaccines."
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