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Millions of Covid-19 cases went undetected during the early months of the pandemic, research suggests

A research paper published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research suggests that for every Covid-19 case reported, between 82 to 130 infections were not detected in the early months of the pandemic.

Commuters wearing protective masks travel in a passenger bus, amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ahmedabad, India, September 11, 2020. REUTERS/Amit Dave

A research paper published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research estimated that the country had nearly 6.5 million cases undetected in May, although the official number of cases declared by late May was 180,000 according to the health ministry.

The paper written by Indian experts attributed the recent spikes witnessed in the country recently to maximizing testing capacity explaining that the reason for not discovering that an enormous number of cases back then was that testing during the early months of the pandemic limited to symptomatic patients.

Large increase in number of tests

Moreover, the number of tests India conducted during that period was 100,000 tests, a number which the country has since raised to around 1.1 million tests conducted on a daily basis.

India has been reporting the highest number of infections for several weeks, with 96,551 new cases reported on Friday only to take the case tally up to 4.5 million infections, in addition to 1,209 new deaths raising the overall deaths toll to 76,271.

More cases than expected

The findings of the research are mostly compatible with the results of surveys conducted in numerous states such as New Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune which discovered that a much higher number of people were likely to have contracted the infection than the official figures declared by health authorities.


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