With considerable easing of lockdown restrictions, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India is expected to increase exponentially in the coming days. However, the high recovery rate and low death rate may save the day for India.
As the central and state governments have relaxed the lockdown regulations, India is reporting a consistent increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 with each passing week. As of 8 AM on 04 June 2020, almost 2.17 Lakh positive cases and 6,075 deaths have been reported in the country. On the positive side, more than one lakh, out of the 2.17 lakh cases, have recovered, as reported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Globally, more than 63.6 lakh cases have been reported along with 3.83 lakh deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s dashboard and India has the seventh highest number of confirmed cases.
India’s recovery rate stands at 48% and fatality rate has dropped to 2.8%
As of 04 June 2020, India’s recovery rate is 48% and the fatality rate has dropped to 2.8%, which is much below the global fatality rate of 6%.
What has been the trend like in India’s recovery rate?
Though the overall recovery rate currently stands at 48%, it does not present the accurate picture of recovery rate in the country since the person tested positive is discharged from the hospital after around 14 days. Hence the following methodology was adopted to arrive at weekly recovery rates.
Methodology: Numbers as presented by the government at 8 AM every morning for the last 56 days (8 weeks), from 10 April to 4 June 2020, have been considered to calculate the weekly recovery rates. Since it is generally accepted that the incubation period of the virus is fourteen days, we have assumed that a person is discharged from the hospital after about fourteen days from the time they tested positive for COVID-19. Thus, to calculate the recovery rate for any particular week, the total number of cases reported in the week 14 days prior to the current week is considered.
For instance, the total number of persons tested positive in the week from 10 April to 16 April is 6,646. After the incubation period of 14 days, between 24 April and 30 April, a total of 4,067 persons had recovered. Thus, out of the 6,646 persons who tested positive between 10 & 16 April, 4067 persons have recovered between 24 & 30 April, implying, 61.19% recovery. Hence the recovery rate in the week, 24 April to 30 April stands at 61.19%. The following table presents the week, total number of positive cases reported in the week 14 days prior, number of recovered cases in the week, and the recovery rate.
As can be observed, the weekly recovery rate has increased and stands at around 95% for the past few weeks. The recovery rate for the week (29 May – 04 June) is more than 100 because in Maharashtra, a large number of recoveries from previous week were clubbed and reported together in the week of 29 May – 04 June.
Weekly recovery rate currently at more than 95%
It is evident from the data that the recovery rate stood at 61.69% in week 1 of the period under consideration and increased to 77.02% in the subsequent week, and further increased to 94.08% and 95.79% in weeks, 3 and 4 respectively. This increase in recovery rate is also because, on 8 May 2020 (during week 3), the discharge policy was revised by the government. Earlier, any person tested positive, even if asymptomatic, had to be isolated and monitored in a medical facility for at least 14 days. The discharge would happen only after two successive negative results within 24 hours. Following the revision in discharge policy, those with mild or moderate symptoms can be discharged after ten days of symptoms onset without a RT-PCR Test, provided they do not have a fever for three days.
Fatality rate has also decreased continuously
Concomitantly, it can be observed that the fatality rate in the country has also decreased from 5.91% in week 1 to 4.49% in week 6. The case fatality rate for each week has been calculated as the percentage of deaths in that week as against the number of positive cases recorded in the week before 14 days. The weekly number of cases and deaths along with the case fatality rate for each week has been summarized in the table below.
Though there was a slight increase in the fatality rate in the week of (01-07 May), it has decreased ever since, implying that the steep increase in the number of cases has not resulted in an increase in fatality rate.
Fewer deaths in India than many other countries
To analyse where India stands globally in terms of fatality rate & deaths, the case fatality rate for each country (Brazil, Italy, Russia, UK, and USA) was calculated when the number of reported cases was 50,000, 1 Lakh, 1.5 Lakhs, and 2 Lakhs in that country. The total number of deaths at each of these milestones is used for arriving at the fatality rate. The countries considered here are those which have been majorly affected by the virus. Number of deaths recorded in India is higher than that of only USA and Russia when the countries recorded close to 2 Lakh cases. UK had already recorded over 6,433 deaths at around 50,000 cases while India has recorded 5,598 deaths at 2 Lakh cases.
India’s case fatality rate has dropped gradually with increase in the number of cases
India’s fatality rate has reduced from 3.43% to 2.82% while the number of cases increased from around 50,000 to 2 Lakhs. Meanwhile, USA & Russia had slightly less fatality rate than India at the threshold of 2 lakh cases. While Russia’s fatality is below 1% throughout, USA’s fatality rate has increased from 1.27% to 2.15%, unlike India which has seen a decreasing rate. In fact, the current fatality rate in USA is more than 5.5%.
The fatality rate in Brazil has been consistently upwards of 6% all through. In UK and Italy, the fatality rate is very high, about four to six times that of India. Italy witnessed a surge in fatality from 8.57% to 13.53%, and UK’s rate went up to 15.93% in this period.
India took 97 days to record close to 50,000 cases and 13 days for 1 Lakh cases, the highest among these six countries. However, all the other countries reached 2 lakh confirmed cases in early May except India which touched 2 Lakh cases in June.
Huge increase in cases likely, but high recovery rate may save the day
With significant easing of lockdown restrictions, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India may increase substantially in the coming weeks & months. While this increase is a cause for concern from a public health standpoint, the high recovery rates in the past weeks may save the day for India. Even if the confirmed cases go up considerably, more than 90% of those are expected to be mild.
Featured Image: COVID-19 cases in India