The Daily Telegraph

One in four in New Delhi has had Covid-19

- By Joe Wallen in New Delhi

AROUND one quarter of the population of New Delhi has contracted Covid-19, according to a government study, raising hopes that the city could become the first globally to develop herd immunity.

Indian public health experts had long predicted the actual virus prevalence was much higher than the official rate of one per cent, due to a severe lack of testing in the capital.

The Delhi government’s health ministry sampled more than 20,000 of its residents at random between June 27 and July 10, with 23.48 per cent found to have developed antibodies.

The results match findings in other global megacities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

In New York, antibody testing in April found 21 per cent of residents had already contracted the virus.

At the time, the official caseload was at 250,000 but the state government study indicated over 1.7 million people had the virus.

Around one in seven people in Stockholm, which did not implement a strict lockdown in a bid to reach herd immunity, developed antibodies. The results in India are being heralded as good news as its chronicall­y underfunde­d public healthcare system struggles to cope with the world’s third-largest epidemic – over 1.1 million cases have been recorded nationwide.

The serosurvey suggests the majority of cases have been asymptomat­ic so far and as the nation heads towards a November peak, its hospitals may not be as inundated with serious cases as initially feared.

India has a young population – 65 per cent of Indians are under 35 – and Covid-19 is believed to affect the elderly most severely. In developed nations, around 60 per cent of deaths are among those over the age of 80.

A study published by the University of Nottingham and the University of Stockholm has found that herd immunity with Covid-19 could be achieved with an infection rate of 43 per cent.

Delhi has called on its citizens to continue to exercise caution. “Physical distancing, use of face mask/cover, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and avoidance of crowded places must be followed strictly,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Health said.

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