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Why Covid-19 Deaths Remain Low in India Even as Cases Witness an Alarming Rise

A woman adjusts her daughter's face mask in Delhi. (Reuters)

A woman adjusts her daughter's face mask in Delhi. (Reuters)

While the daily number of cases has crossed an alarming 20,000 in India, the corresponding number of deaths has remained fairly stable and hit a high of 468 on June 23.

Nikhil Narain
  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 30, 2020, 1:14 PM IST
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India’s daily Covid-19 tally saw a sharp rise from June 10 when the country first breached the 12,000 cases mark. Simultaneously, from the same day, there was also a sudden jump in the number of deaths which crossed the daily count of 300.

However, since then, while the daily high (in cases) has crossed an alarming 20,000 (according to Worldometers, India reported 20,131 cases on June 27), the corresponding number of deaths has remained fairly stable and hit a high of 468 on June 23 (taking the actual count for June 16 not including the backlog).

INDIA MORTALITY RATE AND LOW DEATH RATE 1 (updated)

Note: For June 16, we have taken the actual numbers from the day and not added the backlog.

The highest daily case count was 1.97 times the lowest daily case count during this period. The corresponding multiple for deaths was just 1.52. This clearly suggests that the number of Covid-19 deaths in India has increased at a much slower pace than the increase in cases post June 10.

There has been an increase of 91.25 per cent in the number of cases between June 10 and 28. If we take the actual reported figures for June 16 and readjust the backlog to before June 10, the percentage increase in the number of deaths stands at 68.6 per cent.

INDIA MORTALITY RATE AND LOW DEATH RATE - 2

India’s Daily Mortality Rate (DMR) has also been on a downward curve since June 10. It has seen a continuous fall from June 23 to June 28 – again an indication that the number of deceased due to Covid-19 is not rising at the same rate as the number of cases.

The trend seems to have reversed from the period immediately post Unlock 1.0 (between June 1 and 10), where there was an increase in the DMR.

The average DMR between June 1 and 10 was 2.79. This average has fallen to 2.67 post June 10. Furthermore, the DMR hasn’t crossed 3 since June 16. In fact, the average has gone down further to 2.37 between June 17 and 28.

Comparing India with some of the worst-affected countries when they had a similar case load throws some interesting results.

The USA was reporting about 17,000 to 20,000 daily cases between March 26 and 29. The corresponding number of average deaths stood at 503. Brazil averaged 15,787 cases between May 15 and 26 with 880 daily deaths on an average.

Spain saw it worst period between March 23-April 3. It did not even reach half the daily high case count as India but averaged well above 800 deaths in this period.

The story is no different from Italy. It witnessed a peak of 6,553 cases on March 21 but reported 792 corresponding deaths. Mexico hasn’t yet touched a single-day high of even 6,500 cases but already crossed 1,000 deaths twice. France never crossed the 8,000 cases barrier but the daily cases surged past 1,000 consistently in the first week of April.

India, in stark contrast, have just averaged 373 Covid-19 deaths even as the mean for cases has risen to 14,443 post June 10.

India’s Mortality Rate, at 3, places it at Number 10 among the 25 most severely affected nations in terms of caseload. Just for perspective — it is better than Germany (4.63%), USA (4.87%), China (5.55%) and significantly better than Sweden (8.1%), Spain (9.58%), Mexico (12.28%), UK (14%), Italy (14.45%) and France (18.28%) . These are some of the most developed, advanced and powerful nations with some of the best healthcare facilities in the world.

In terms of Deaths Per 1 Million Population, India (12 deaths per million population) is only lagging behind China (3) and Bangladesh (11). This number is as high as 642 for the UK, 606 for Spain, 575 for Italy, 523 for Sweden, 456 for France and 388 for USA.

INDIA MR AND LOW DEATH RATE - 3

Even in terms of Tests Per Death, India has done well as compared to most of the superpowers.

The argument that India could still be under-reporting deaths is baseless as after the recent revision, it is almost impossible to significantly hide any Covid-19 relating fatalities.

There are still many challenges and the fight against the pandemic hasn’t been easy. There have been shortcomings and there are many things India could have done better.

But India has managed to control the number of Covid-19 fatalities. And the major credit has to go to the early and strict lockdown which pushed the peak and gave India time to prepare and ramp up its health infrastructure.

The fact that India, despite all its challenges and constraints, has been able to contain, quite remarkably, the loss of lives due to the virus, remains the silver lining amid all the despair and gloom.

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