The first two phases of coronavirus-induced lockdown were able to save up to 78,000 lives and avert as many as 29 lakh COVID-19 cases, according to government data released by Niti Aayog member Vinod Paul on Friday. These phases also spurred the rate of testing across India and saw more effective preparations to fight COVID-19, the study said.
Paul underlined the findings of several epidemic modeling exercises undertaken by experts to evaluate the gains of lockdown (imposed in India) that came into effect on March 25 and have been extended three times, now until May 31. He added that the situation would have been much worse, had the lockdown not been imposed.
Assimilating estimates from 5 different studies, the study titled 'Lockdown: India's timely public health measure to fight COVID-19 pandemic' stated that 14-29 lakh new cases were averted between the first half of nationwide lockdown. Meanwhile, 37,000-78,000 deaths were also averted during the same period, it further added. The lockdown measures also helped in minimising the number of people spreading the infection.
The study stated that as of May 21, 80 per cent of active cases were concentrated in 5 states, namely Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. Around 80 per cent deaths due to COVID-19 were concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi. Meanwhile, 5 cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Thane - are responsible for around 60 per cent of active cases in India. On the other hand, Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Pune, Delhi, and Kolkata account for 60 per cent coronavirus deaths in India.
The lockdown period helped with preparations regarding COVID-19 specific health infrastructure, capacity development of human resources for healthcare; increase in testing capacity; massive increase in supplies, equipment, and oxygen; guidelines and standards prepared, circulated, adopted and practiced; research and development in diagnostics, virus studies, drug trials, sero-epidemiology, vaccine research, and technology, the report exclaimed.
It has also led to a push to digital tools like Aarogya Setu app and telemedicine, the report added.