One million and counting PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 July 2020 03:16
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Ishaan page one 

With India now recording over 30,000 Covid-19 infections for the second straight day, it joins Brazil and the US as the third country to log a million cases. Although adding fewer cases every day than Brazil’s near 40,000 or the US’ s 68,000, India’s tally could top that of Brazil within a week.

The fact is infections in India are growing at a faster pace; on Thursday, infections rose at 3.4%, nearly twice that of Brazil’s 1.8% and considerably higher than the US’s 1.9%. If the momentum sustains, India will soon be reporting nearly 52,000 infections a day and will hit close to 1.5 million cases by July 31; by then Brazil will be adding 45,000 infections a day.

What’s more worrying is that the positivity – new cases upon new tests — isn’t showing signs of tapering off even though testing has been ramped up to 3.26 lakh samples a day. On the contrary, positivity has risen to 10% from 9.3% on July 9.

Positivity has been high in the initial stages of the pandemic because primarily those with systems and persons known to be in contact with them are being tested. However, that the positivity remains elevated means infections are still spreading.

In the US, positivity rates initially dipped from a high of 25% as the infection was reined in but subsequently started rising again as lockdowns were eased. The US, at present, is doing 7.3 lakh tests daily. With testing per million in India still the lowest at 9.2 people per thousand, the US tests 135 per thousand, whereas Brazil tests 23, India needs to ramp up its testing efforts. More critically, there need to be more RT-PCR tests rather than the RAT (rapid antigen tests), which are cheaper but far less reliable.

Even as Zydus Cadilla kicked off human clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate – ZyCov-D – with the first human dosing on Wednesday, a study from IISc projects India may have 6.2 crore infections by the end of March 2021 in a worst-case scenario with 35 lakh cases by September. The report said active cases in the country are likely to be 10 lakh by then. As per a paper by researchers at MIT, if there are no medical breakthroughs including vaccinations, India will be adding 2.9 lakh cases per day by February 2021.


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