A second wave of Covid-19 in India

INDIA - In Brief 18 Apr 2021 by Ila Patnaik

Through 2020, sero-prevalence data was showing a large-scale spread of the disease within India. Alongside this, a large surge of Covid-19 related deaths was not visible. The analysis of excess deaths data showed that the fingerprints of Covid-19 in death -- male, elderly, co-morbidities, urban -- were absent. One element of our understanding was that the rich were able to self-quarantine while the poor had fewer choices, and the disease had marched through many poor people. This reasoning was supported by seroprevalence of about 80% in the Bombay slums by late 2020.In about March 2020, the disease seems to have surged. To some extent, this may reflect new strains such as B.117, which are more infectious and more virulent. This may reflect an exhausted populace that became sloppy on careful protocols. And, it may reflect a more infectious strain that was able to get through to the less careful upper class. A lot of people who are upper class have become sick from about 15 March onwards. Anecdotally, the death rate has gone up.Upper class people are more likely to seek out testing and health care. As a consequence, testing and health care -- which are largely done in the Indian private health care sector -- choked.In some ideal world, from late 2020, the upper class -- which had stayed pristine through 2020 -- should have jumped to vaccination and achieved protection. The rollout of the vaccine is, however, limited. As of today, about 9 doses per 100 people have been pushed out by the state-led system. While every vaccination helps, this modest extent of vaccination has been a part of the story shaping the second wave.Turning to the economy, we tend to naturally make an...

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