When will coronavirus infections peak? Analysis throws up varying predictions

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predict that the peak could occur anytime now
Fake blood is seen in test tubes labelled with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in this illustration taken March 17, 2020.(REUTERS)
Fake blood is seen in test tubes labelled with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in this illustration taken March 17, 2020.(REUTERS)
Updated on Mar 19, 2020 10:08 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

An analysis on when scientists in China and outside expect the Covid-19 outbreak to peak has thrown up predictions that vary quite a bit, with some optimistic scenarios showing infections have already peaked in China and others suggesting the spike may come in May.

On February 11, Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese physician leading a committee on the outbreak, said the novel coronavirus infection will peak by the end of February, said the analysis, compiled by Nature journal’s David Cyranoski.

Zhong, who is famous for discovering the SARS ( Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus, said the situation gradually improved in China because of government interventions and curbs, such as travel restrictions.

In the past 24 hours, China reported no new local infection for the first time since the crisis emerged in December, a turning point in Beijing’s fight against the outbreak that has killed and sickened more than 81,000 in the country and hammered its economy. Globally, the disease continues to spread with nearly 9,000 fatalities and over 219,000 infections.

 

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predict that the peak could occur anytime now. Sebastian Funk, who co-authored the analysis, says the prediction is based on an estimate that one infected person in Wuhan, the epicentre of the disease, was, on average, infecting between 1.5 and 4.5 persons. He also says at the peak of the pandemic, around a million people, or 10% of Wuhan’s population, will be infected. Funk’s analysis is not peer reviewed.

 

Another research suggests infections may rise again with the lifting of restrictions. People in Chinese cities started returning to work last week, which could lead to new chains of transmission, according to Hiroshi Nishiura, an epidemiologist at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. The research fears that infections could peak between late March and late May, and estimates that between 550 million and 650 million people across China, roughly 40% of the country’s population, will be infected.

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