New Delhi: It is likely that as high as 50 per cent of Indians would have already been infected with Covid-19 by February 2021, helping slow the virus spread, a member of a federal government committee tasked with providing projections said on Monday. Also Read - Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to Begin Late-Stage Trial of Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine Soon

“Our mathematical model estimates that around 30% of the population is currently infected and it could go up to 50% by February,” said Manindra Agrawal, a professor at the Indian Institute for Technology in Kanpur and a committee member. Also Read - 200-300 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Likely to be Ready by December-end: SII

The committee’s estimate for the current spread of coronavirus is much higher than the government’s sero surveys. The serological showed that as of September, only around 14 per cent of the Indian population had been infected. Also Read - PM Modi Calls For Speedy Access To COVID-19 Vaccines For Citizens Once Ready

However, Manindra Agrawal said sero surveys may not be able to get the sampling correct due to the sheer size of the population being surveyed.

The committee of scientists, virologists and other experts which made the report public on Sunday, has instead relied on a mathematical model.

“We have evolved a new model which explicitly takes into account unreported cases, so we can divide infected people into two categories – reported cases and infections that do not get reported,” Manindra Agrawal said.

The committee warned that their projections would not hold up if precautions were not followed. Further, it said Covid-19 cases could spike by up to 2.6 million infections in a single month if measures such as social distancing and wearing masks were ignored.

Experts have also warned that Covid-19 infections could increase in the country in upcoming the holiday season with Durga Puja celebrations this month and Diwali in mid-November.

(With agency inputs)