As India continues to record more than 300,000 daily cases of Covid-19, it’s hard to tell when the country will reach its peak, says Chandrika Bahadur, chair of the Lancet Covid-19 Commission India Taskforce.
“There are some epidemiological estimates that say we are closing in on a peak, but these are all projections. So it’s hard to tell whether the peak will come in the middle of May … or whether it will take a little bit longer,” she told CNN.
However, India will continue to see high mortality due to Covid-19 in May, because deaths lag behind the rise in infections.
While Lancet has recommended lockdowns for bringing the numbers in control, Bahadur says it’s a “double-edged sword” for a country like India and needs a nuanced approach.
“There are still a large number of districts in the country that are not seeing the wave that we’re seeing in Delhi … and other high-risk spots of the country. And over there you can probably have a strategy that is less about lockdowns and much more about wearing masks and distancing and banning gatherings,” she explained. “In other places, however, unfortunately, there is no way out where the numbers are what they are other than shutting down for a few weeks.”
Evidence suggests that one-week lockdowns do not work and need to continue for “six weeks at a minimum before you really start seeing a significant decline,” she added.
Bahadur acknowledges that such a step would need provisions for the poor “because this could be devastating.”
“It’s a terrible choice. I have a lot of sympathy for the government because this is a difficult choice to make under all circumstances,” she said. “These are the choices in front of us. None of them are good.”