Indian States Must Increase COVID-19 Testing?

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Even as the lockdown has been extended beyond May 3, it is imperative that India’s public health strategy for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic starts shifting towards testing, tracing and isolating. Lockdown is just not sustainable beyond a point in a poor country like India, and, as has already become amply clear, it imposes enormous costs on the most vulnerable sections of the population.

The key component of this post-lockdown strategy is adequate testing. To implement this strategy, it is necessary to have reliable estimates of the magnitude of “adequate” testing. Comparing the benchmark figures for “adequate” testing with actual testing right now, we can arrive at rates by which COVID-19 testing needs to be ramped up.

A caveat is in order before we proceed. The numbers reported in this article rely on the predicted case count on May 15. The predicted case count comes from a statistical model. Like all models, its results come with possibilities of error – either in the upward or lower direction. The possible error in the predicted case count directly feeds into my calculations of ‘adequate’ number of tests.

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