India has recorded 13,835 confirmed cases, 452 deaths, 1,767 cured cases, according to the latest update released by the Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare on Friday evening.
Rajasthan becomes first Indian state to conduct Covid-19 rapid testing.
Husband of an Indian diplomat in the Indian Embassy of Brazil died due to Covid-19 in New York, US.
Andhra Pradesh secures 100,000 test kits from South Korea.
Government of Maharashtra orders house owners to not collect rent for three months.
Study on BCG feasibility for Covid-19 cure will be done by ICMR.
Ratio between recovered coronavirus-infected patients and deaths is at 80:20: Union Health ministry.
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India is four times more populous than the US, but has just 2% the number of cases and only 1.5% of the number of Covid-19 deaths. How has the country, whose per capita income is just tenth of the US, avoided being flattened by the pandemic?
There are four possible explanations:
- The epidemic may have struck later than in other countries. Since epidemics have exponential growth at the start, a small delay can have massive effects on the number of cases.
- India’s 21-day lockdown may have successfully suppressed the epidemic. Physical distancing is one of the best ways to slow the epidemic and, if anything, many have criticized the lockdown for being too draconian in that regard.
- India has not been able to test enough to count all cases and deaths. Without sufficient testing, many deaths may not be labeled with Covid-19 for official statistics, leading to an underestimation of the severity of the crisis.
- India may have protective characteristics against Covid-19. Researchers have proposed that the low share of elderly in the population, the high temperatures and humidity in India, widespread BCG vaccination for tuberculosis, or resistance to malaria have helped India escape the brunt of the pandemic.
First, we can rule out that India is in an early stage of the pandemic. The first infected travelers from Wuhan reached Kerala, southwest India, on January 29. While it is true that Kerala acted quickly and contained a potential outbreak, more carriers reached other states by early March.
Other explanations center on universal BCG vaccination in India, or domestic hydroxychloroquine use to combat malaria. While it is true, for instance, that countries with BCG vaccination appear so far to have less transmission, these countries are also warmer, have younger populations, and—because they are poorer—likely tested late. So it is hard to know whether there is a true link between Covid-19 and BCG or malaria burdens. Further analysis is required, though it may not come fast enough to help in this epidemic.
Ultimately, India’s relatively light exposure to Covid-19 remains a puzzle. It may have certain characteristics that protect it from the deadliest impact, but they do not suggest that it will escape the pandemic unscathed. Great care and vigilance are still necessary.