Have We Just Passed the Coronavirus Peak ?

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 23rd Oct 2020

You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.– Dale Carnegie

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #203 :“Have We Just Passed the Coronavirus Peak ?

Have We Just Passed the Coronavirus Peak ? Have We Just Passed the Coronavirus Peak ?

R. Prasad | Gautam Menon
Have We Just Passed the Coronavirus Peak ?

      HEADLINES:

Has India passed the COVID-19 peak?

      CENTRAL THEME:

We cannot emphatically say that it has, as the virus has not spread uniformly across the country

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Diseases : Health

      MAINS QUESTION:

The hyper-transmission stage of COVID-19 has just settled down.Do you think the pandemic just reached its peak ? Analyse -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • India National Supermodel Committee Report
  • Understanding the peak of COVID-19
  • Regional Variations
  • Data Lapse
  • Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

COVID-19 India National Supermodel Committee, constituted by the Department of Science and Technology, concluded that India had passed the COVID-19 peak in September.

  • SAFETY PROTOCOLS : It also found that there will be fewer than 50,000 active cases from December and if proper safety protocols continue to be followed.
  • PANDEMIC IN CONTROL : The pandemic can be “controlled by early next year” with “minimal” active symptomatic infections by end-February.
  • NEW CASES : The number of daily new cases recorded has been reducing from the peak of about 90,000 cases since mid-September .
  • NUMBER OF TESTS : Even as the number of tests done each day remain at about 10,00,000.

      BODY: 

PANDEMIC PEAK IN INDIA

  • THE FORECAST : Major cities, and in some districts adjacent to those cities that already have sufficient numbers of people infected, the number of new infections is going down, is what to be expected.
  • VIRUS SPECTRUM : We cannot say that a bigger or an equivalent peak is not in store for us, because the virus has not been spreading uniformly in India.

There are many districts where the number of cases remains small.

  • DENSITY IS THE PREY : The most dense areas might have already been affected, whether it’s the metros or the tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
  • UNEVEN SPREAD : While the infection is spreading temporarily from one area to another, we cannot certainly say that the worst is over yet.
  • STANDARD CRITERION : Until we touch the baseline, which is rock bottom, we will not be able to know whether another peak is visible.

REGIONAL VARIATIONS

  • PARADIGM APPROACH : It is not a single wave at the national level which we should be looking at; instead, we should be looking at the State level.
  • HIKE IN CASES : Except Telangana, the other southern States have been reporting a high number of daily new cases, while large populous States such as U.P., M.P.

Just because the southern States or some other States are reporting more cases does not mean that only these States have circulation going on and other States have controlled it.

  • STATISTICAL FALLACY : Saying that only a few States have higher transmission compared to others is a statistical fallacy. This is the biggest trap we have seen in many infectious diseases.
  • INTEGRITY OF REPORTING : Due to integrity of reporting cases, many States get classified as high-risk States.

EXAMPLE
The same thing happened, for instance, in the HIV programme. We should not repeat that mistake.

  • BUILDING RESILIENCE : We should build strong and resilient systems of data collection and reporting.

COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT

  • SEROLOGICAL SURVEYS : One of the key things we would like to see is State-level serological surveys throughout the State, and also pick some infections in the acute phase.
  • RANDOM TESTING : Testing randomly throughout the State will help us know the case-to-infection ratio, also people who already have developed antibodies.
  • VERBAL AUTOPSIES : Random antigen tests, RT-PCR and Verbal autopsies of deaths will tell us whether the State has gone past the surge in cases or is yet to surge.

RURAL INDIA

  • SCARCE DATA : We don’t know which districts are in which stage of transmission in several States.
  • ICMR HINTS : The ICMR survey gave a clear approximation that the infection has spread to rural areas, at least in the surveyed areas.
  • DISPARITY IN RURAL AREAS : The rural areas should not be ignored; we will have to do more testing in rural areas to corroborate that.
  • TRANSMISSION DYNAMICS : We also need to understand whether the rural dynamics of transmission are similar to urban areas. And that can only be known by doing more sero surveys there.

DATA LAPSE

  • ASYMPTOMATIC PATIENTS :  We still don’t know what proportion of people are acutely infected and yet not detected.

Data are vital. What we need is much more granular data that will give us a better idea of whether it is just lack of reporting or insufficient testing.

  • MICRO DATA : Without that kind of granular data, we will not be able to say whether rural areas have missing transmission or not.
  • KNOWLEDGE GAPS : Also, the delays in getting tested after falling ill, and in getting tested and getting a result, are significant in the progression of the disease from person to person.
  • MATHEMATICAL MODELLING : This particular model with these particular numbers show that cases will come down for three or four months down the line.

But we have no reason to believe that those numbers will remain the same, the parameters in that model will remain the same.

  • SAMPLE SIZE : A much better index is what is the fraction of the population of the country that you think is currently infected.And that will tell you how many more people are there to be infected.
  • REASONABLE BALLPARK FIGURE : A Sad note ! There are lots of people yet to be infected, a lot of them are in areas that have not been exposed yet.
  • POLITICAL PLAYGROUND : Long horizon serves a political purpose rather than a public health purpose.The committee has not been able to provide any valid explanation for why India seems to have peaked.
  • SECOND WAVE : The data suggest that areas that were prone to increased population movement were the ones who got the earlier waves of circulation.

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • UPNEXT : With the most dense areas having been affected already, it’s only the lesser population density areas which are the next focus.
  • TRANSMISSION SPEED : The speed at which it will spread is going to be different from what it was earlier.

Definitely there seems to be some decrease in cases but since we have not touched the baseline, we can’t be sure that this is over.

  • DATA MANIPULATION : We need to make a beginning of trying to understand what is happening in each district to be able to predict . We are not using the data in the wisest manner.
  • THE OTHER SIDE : The highest point in fatalities may have already happened, but there is significant regional variation.

“Passing the peak” is only the first stage in a long fight.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Have We Just Passed the Coronavirus Peak ?

 

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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