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Study that scared world into lockdown may be flawed & why Telangana needs to test more

In episode 473 of #CutTheClutter, Shekhar Gupta discusses the recent controversy around an Imperial College London study, ICMR's revised testing guidelines & Telangana's testing numbers.

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New Delhi: A study conducted by renowned epidemiologist Neil Ferguson at Imperial College London, that had wide-ranging implications across the world, predicted that without a lockdown, Covid-19 could infect 80 per cent of the American population and lead to the deaths of 2.2 million people — which is 0.9 per cent of the total population.

Similarly, the study also stated that unless countries actively intervened to arrest the spread of the virus, 90 million people in the entire world could die, including 5,10,000 people in UK.

It had indicated that mitigation, like isolation of confirmed and suspected cases, and suppression of the virus, like closing schools and colleges, can reduce the spread of the virus to thousands.

In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, UK was trying to attain herd immunity, but after the study’s publication, Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost his nerve and imposed the lockdown.

On the other hand, Sweden has continued herd immunity strategy since the beginning and ignored the Imperial College study. While the study predicted 20,000 deaths due to Covid-19 in Sweden, not even 3,000 died. On the other hand, nearly 35,000 have died in the UK even after imposing a lockdown.

Study author Neil Ferguson himself violated the lockdown by meeting his lover. He then resigned from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the apex group against Covid-19 in UK, which led to further controversies around the study.

Now, David Richards, founder and chief executive of WANdisco, a global leader in Big Data software and Dr Konstantin ‘Cos’ Boudnik, vice-president of architecture at WANdisco, have written an article in the Telegraph criticising the code used in the study. 

They said the code doesn’t follow standard coding practices and also uses Fortran, a coding  language from the 1970s. They have called Imperial College’s software mistake the worst in human history.

Also read: ICMR revises testing guidelines; asymptomatic, high risk to be tested between 5-10 days

ICMR revises testing guidelines for asymptomatic cases

Revising its strategy for Covid-19 testing, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said Monday that returnees and migrants who show symptoms for influenza-like illness will be tested for coronavirus infection within seven days of ailment and stressed that no emergency clinical procedure, including deliveries, should be delayed for lack of testing.

ICMR in its revised strategy for coronavirus testing in India also added that all hospitalised patients who develop symptoms for influenza-like illness and frontline workers involved in containment and mitigation of Covid-19 having such signs will also be tested for coronavirus infection through the RT-PCR test.

Direct and high-risk asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed case are to be tested once between day five and day 10 of coming in contact. Before this, asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed case were being tested once between day five and day 14.

Also read: Modi govt pulls up KCR-led Telangana for low testing numbers, says need to chase virus

State of Telangana

When Shekhar Gupta pointed out that Telangana’s testing record is much lesser than the national average and it is a disgrace, Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender said Telangana was following ICMR guidelines. 

The Narendra Modi government has now pulled up the K. Chandrashekhar Rao administration in Telangana for its low testing numbers, saying the “lack of proactive testing” will not help the state contain the Covid-19 pandemic, ThePrint has learnt.

Not only is Telangana behind the rest of India in testing, it even lags behind Andhra Pradesh, from which it was carved out in 2014. A health ministry official said that while Andhra Pradesh conducts 9,000 tests per day on average, Telangana’s total is just over 200.

While the all-India testing average was 1,025 per million population, the figure for Telangana was only 546. 

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  1. Where is the exclusive story on Telangana testing ??

    By moushmi das gupta as mentioned by shekarji

  2. “Low testing ” thing in telangana was going on in quite awhile now for more than a month
    But why bring it up right after kcr’s comments on central government

  3. Hello,

    I have seen the video i would like to tell you what could be the reason for low testing on Telangana:

    1. As the state health minister said he is strictly following the rules set by ICMR for testing covid19 cases. Now that the guidelines have changed especially how to treat asymptomatic cases now the no of tests should increase.

    2. The Sambar factor which you mentioned in your article actually has 2 reasons :

    a. Much ahead of several states in India especially who come from abroad to Hyderabad, the Ayush Dept freely distributed Arsenic album 30 as preventive medicine for covid19. Now 7 more States have done it in the last 2 months where they distributed the magic pills especially in hot spots to reduce it. Just for for your info earlier 2 months ago police dept in Pune had taken Arsenic album 30 there are hardly any cases whereas in Mumbai there are 750 odd cases. So now entire police dept in MH are taking Arsenic album 30.

    b. Now the second reason is that several people in Hyderabad especially follow and take homeo pills since long time. So that could be helping them to build immunity. You might check this data as there are several homeo clinics and medical stores in Hyderabad.

    c. Many people who come to Hyderabad from aboard either are localities or actually they go to AP as they hail from there. So the cases you see in AP could be linked to this. More data needs to be taken for verification.

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