What’s Happening in India?

August 15th, 2020

An article in the UK Spectator on July 22nd, entitled “The Virus Paradox” cites some evidence from India showing that 23.5% of Delhi’s population has antibodies to Sars-Cov-2. The research was carried out between 27 June and 10 July. The article was implying that the percentage of people testing positive may indicate that some herd immunity may be taking place with around 20% of people infected as the numbers of deaths in Delhi seems to be peaking and receding.

In most countries so far, the death rate from COVID19 is in general no worse than a usual flu season, and in particular, this has been seen in “developing” countries in Africa and Asia. According to the article, the population of Delhi is 16 million (although the larger metropolitan area is 25 million), suggesting that 3.76 million people already have antibodies. According to the government, at that point, there have been 3,571 deaths, showing an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.094%, much lower than Europe and the USA.

The article goes on to say that the death rate in the developing world so far has been much less than expected. The fear that poor health systems and other social factors would lead to a much higher level of death has not occurred. As of July 21st, India had an estimated 29,904 deaths, which in a population of 1.3 billion is statistically insignificant. Since then, as of August 17th India has apparently seen an increase in mortality, which according to worldometers is now at 51,925. However, given the population, it is still relatively insignificant and it is very likely, as elsewhere, that the majority of these cases had co-morbidities and it is an increase in testing that is revealing more Covid19 cases. In other words, many of these people would have likely died anyway. Interestingly, deaths in Delhi have not increased as much as in other places. Lockdown in India happened over 3 months ago and if cases are now increasing in the last month as lockdown has been relaxed a bit, it questions whether lockdown merely delayed infection and therefore was ineffective. However, it is virtually impossible to find any serious critique of the global lockdown in any mainstream media (MSM).

Also, rates of mortalities from other diseases, like T.B. malaria and the increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs), makes deaths from COVID19 pale in comparison with other health concerns.

India is one of the most congested countries in the world, and includes four of the world’s largest cities; Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai have a combined population of 100 million people. Most of the population live in very compact and close environments, and should have presented the perfect opportunity for Sars-Cov-2 to quickly spiral out of control. And yet it seems to date it hasn’t overwhelmed the health service and if it has spread, most people are asymptomatic.

The article speculates about the factors involved, including having a much younger population than Europe and the USA and with much less obesity, a known risk factor. Africa also has a much younger population (1 in 4 people in the world under the age of 25 live in Africa) than either Europe or the USA and correspondingly has had a much lower mortality rate. Also, it is not useful to use case fatality rates (CFR) as an indicator given the sporadic and unreliable testing done worldwide.

The article concludes that “The news from Delhi does not suggest that India’s strict lockdown was any more effective than that in Britain. But it does provide hope that the global pandemic will prove a lot less deadly than many have feared.”

However, the media has shifted its focus to the increased number of cases in many countries, while at the same time not discussing whether true mortalities due to COVID19 are also increasing. People die of many things, including the flu, but it is only now with COVID19 that people in their millions are being tested in this way. This tends to create a distorted picture. The MSM is interested in keeping the fear going by simply citing the number of cases, and with regard to India, not looking at the overall picture of the huge population and the relatively low numbers of deaths.

As of July 18th, according to the Spectator article, Delhi had only recorded 3,571 deaths. A month later, that had increased to 4,188 deaths, a relatively small increase and still an insignificant number given the large population. In other parts of India, death rates seemed to be increasing, but again, it is hard to know what is happening. Is the increase due to people dying anyway, but giving the impression the disease is spreading when actually it is only an increase in testing. What needs to be considered also are the consequences of lockdown for up to 100 million Indians living in the four largest cities in the heat of summer, when temperatures can be over 40 degrees. These are some of the most congested places on the planet and for poor people living in extremely compact housing, the results of lockdown can be devastating. This analysis is not being made in the MSM. All we hear is the increase of numbers with the attached increase in fear.

Once the pandemic is over, the number of fatalities in each country will be seen to reflect certain fundamental factors, including age demographics, the care home situation, health care infrastructures, the amounts of pharmaceuticals used in health care and government policies. For example, in the USA where the massive CARES ACT allocates increased hospital funding for each COVID19 diagnosis, and the US Centers for Disease Control allows COVID19 cases to be diagnosed as positive when there is suspicion it is COVID19 but no test. It is easy to imagine how the numbers might be distorted. Also, the consequences of lockdown, including suicides, and other factors will have to be looked at when analyzing the results of the lockdown strategy in many countries, both in the developed and developing world. Can the MSM be relied on to do this analysis given their narrative that lockdown was the only solution? The experience in India may reveal another perspective.

Comment: It would seem that contrary to reports in the UK media, India is not being decimated by COVID19, but rather holding its own, so far at least.






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