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COVID-19 India: Positivity & Fatality Rates decrease in many States


As Europe & the USA witness a second wave of COVID-19 infection, similar fears exist for India. However, both the positivity rate & the fatality rate across many states of India have shown a continuous decrease in the last two months. 

India currently has the second highest number of COVID-19 positive cases detected till date, behind the USA. Around the beginning of October 2020, the number of new daily cases has begun to reduce following an increasing trend observed in the earlier months. Does this indicate that the infection has peaked, and we are now in a post-peak period? There are various indicators one should look at to understand the trajectory of the pandemic and its current situation. In this story, we take a look at few of these trends.  We earlier did a story analysing the trends of COVID-19 infection as of end of August 2020. 

It took around 45 days for the number of cases to double from end of August 2020 

In the earlier story, we had observed that the number of cases more than doubled within a single month i.e. during August 2020. During that month, the number of daily cases has also increased from around 50 thousand to 75 thousand new cases per day. Since then, the number of new daily cases has shown an increasing but inconsistent trend, with the highest number of cases being reported on 17 September 2020, with 97.8 thousand cases. Thereafter, the number of new daily cases has followed a broadly decreasing trend. 

It took around 45 days , for the total number of cases to double from the end of August. On 31 August 2020, the total number of positive cases was 36.21 lakh across India which increased to 73.7 lakh cases on 16 October 2020.

The slowdown of the doubling rate can also be attributed to increase in the total number of cases since a larger number takes a longer time to double if the growth rate is decreasing.  As we had observed in the earlier story, during August the numbers more than doubled while during July 2020, they tripled though the number of new cases was way more in August than in July. 

Increase in the Recovery rate and a drop in the fatality rate 

India now has the highest number of recovered cases (around 68.78 lakh) of COVID-19 as on 22 October 2020 i.e. around 89% recovery rate. The recovery rate is the best in the top-10 countries with the highest number of cases (only bettered by Peru which has 90% recovery rate).  However, the recovery rate may not be right indicator to gauge the situation since all those who are affected will eventually recover except the ones who succumbed to the disease. 

While recovery rate is not a right indicator, the fatality rate is. Coinciding with the increase in recovery rate, there was a drop in the fatality rate. The fatality rate was already on a decline starting September 2020, which fell further in the ensuing period. As on date, the fatality rate is 1.51% i.e. 1.51 deaths per 100 detected COVID-19 positive cases, which is amongst the least fatality rates. 

Steep decline in the positivity rate 

As per ICMR’s data, around 9.86 crore COVID-19 tests were conducted in India as of 22 October 2020. The number of daily tests being conducted has ranged from 10 lakhs – 14.5 lakh for the last 2 months.

India is behind only USA in the number of total tests conducted, although it does not fare well in terms of number of tests conducted per million population. A few experts believe that the number of daily cases would go up if the number of tests is also increased. While this is true, the decline in the positivity rate is a positive sign. 

Positivity rate is the number of COVID-19 positive cases reported per every 100 tests conducted. The positivity rate peaked to around 9% in August 2020 which has continuously reduced since then. The current positivity rate is around 7.8%, i.e. 77.06 lakh positive cases out of 9.86 crore tests.

Declining trend of Positivity Rate in most of the States except Kerala 

In the earlier story in August 2020, we had observed that the positivity rate was increasing in a few states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal etc. These states have recently shown a declining trend in the cumulative positivity rate. 

  • The positivity rate in Andhra Pradesh at the beginning of September 2020 was 11.8% which eventually peaked to around 12.3% by mid-September. Since then, it has shown a consistent decline with currently the positivity rate being around 10.9%. 
  • Positivity rate in Karnataka peaked around end of September at 12.5% and is currently on a decline. 
  • Meanwhile, the positivity rate in Telangana and Delhi has been decreasing with the current positivity rate at 5.7% and 8.2% respectively. 
  • Among the states with higher number of Cases, Kerala has shown an increasing trend in positivity rate. Here, the positivity rate increased from 4.5% on  01 September 2020 to 8.84% as on 22 October 2020. 

COVID-19 cases increasing again in France, Spain and other European countries 

The declining positivity rate and fatality rates are a positive sign for India. While India appears to be on the path to recovery,  recent trends in few of the other countries are a cause for concern. 

Western European countries like Spain, France, U.K etc. were among the first countries where COVID-19 spread outside of China i.e. around March-April’2020. COVID-19 infection was brought under control in these countries by May-June’2020. 

However, over the last two months, there is an increase in the number of cases being reported  in these countries. As per the data available on the, France started reporting more than 10 thousand cases daily from the beginning of September and currently reports around 25 thousand daily cases. Spain is also reporting around 10-15 thousand cases daily since September, which is more than the numbers it reported in March. After an increase in the number of cases from the beginning of September, United Kingdom started reporting more than 10 thousand daily cases by end of September to currently more than 20 thousand cases daily. After a decline during August, even USA has started to report an increasing number of daily cases.  All these countries are currently showing signs of a second wave spread of COVID-19 infection. 

While the situation currently seems to be improving in India, a similar second wave cannot be ruled out in the future, especially with the country opening up after the lockdown. 

Featured Image: COVID-19 Positivity & Fatality Rates in India


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