John Hopkins varsity disassociates from study on India’s possible COVID-19 cases

The US-based John Hopkins University has disassociated itself with a previous study which landed into controversy for claiming that as many as 12.5 crore to 24 crore people are likely to be infected by the novel coronavirus in India.

“John Hopkins University has now disassociated itself from a study which had predicted a high number of casualties in India due to #COVID2019india and has also said that use of its logo on the report was not authorized,” Press Information Bureau, Government of India’s nodal agency for communicating with the media, said on Twitter.

The study titled ‘COVID-19 for India Updates’, which went viral on social media last week (March 24), carried logos of the US-based research organisation Center For Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) and Johns Hopkins University. It was also published on the CDDEP website.

The report said that if coronavirus is allowed to spread without interventions then between 30 and 40 crore Indians are likely to be infected by July. However, most of these cases are expected to be mild, According to the report, at the peak (between April and May 2020), 10 crore Indians could be infected at one time.

The number of coronavirus infections in India may cross 20 crore in next two months if preventive measures, including isolation and social distancing, are not followed, it read. The model also projected that COVID-19 cases may finally start to slow down or end by July or August.

It further noted that while India seems to have done well in controlling the number of confirmed cases compared to other countries in the early phase of the pandemic, the country is critically missing a key component in this assessment – the number of truly affected cases.

“So far, the number of people tested in India has been relatively small. In the absence of widespread testing, it is impossible to quantify the magnitude of ‘community transmission’, in other words, estimate how many are infected outside hospitals and health care facilities,” the researchers of the varsity wrote in the report. “Thus our current estimates are at best underestimates for India based on early phase data,” the researchers said.

Meanwhile, the University, which compiles official data regarding the COVID-19 updates worldwide, has said that it had not authorised the Center for Diseases Dynamics, Economic and Policy (CDDEP) to use its logo on a Covid-19 research report on India.

Even as the number of cases in India has breached the 900-mark as on March 28, with the country under a 21-day lockdown, the report stressed, “A national lockdown is not productive and could cause serious economic damage, increase hunger and reduce the population resilience for handling the infection peak.” The CDDEP has not come out with a statement on University’s tweet so far.

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