An improved recovery rate is positive news, but reducing new infections is crucial
- Data for COVID-19 is still a long way from giving a complete picture, but it is encouraging that the basic metric of the number of those recovering as a share of confirmed infections is showing improvement in India.
- National data on the parameters appear similar to disease trends witnessed globally, with the worst outcomes encountered among elderly patients — translating into a case fatality rate of 51.2% for Indians older than 60.
- Among the countries moving to a mass-testing strategy after a measured lockdown and successful control over viral transmission is New Zealand.
- Doctors in the United States have made a contrasting determination: of people who had the virus, but died of unrelated causes.
- These findings and trends underscore the importance of research on the progression of the pandemic in India.
- The comparatively low death rate from COVID-19 in India, officially estimated at 3.2%, remains a topic for systematic study.
- Even accounting for inability to identify all virus-caused deaths and misclassified fatalities, the absence of a large number of severely distressed patients in hospitals stands in contrast to the experience abroad, notably in the U.S., as well as many countries in Europe.
- India’s fatalities may be low, and an improved recovery rate will help revive the economy, there is genuine worry that patients with non-COVID-19 conditions are at greater risk for poor health outcomes due to lack of access to care during the pandemic.
- The public health strategy for COVID-19 has to sharply focus on helping people determine their infection status through widely available testing.
- This will enable selective quarantining, planning of welfare measures and participation of people who have recovered in trials for potential therapies such as convalescent plasma transfusion.
- With a relaxation of the lockdown, India’s strategy will need precise and intensive measures to drive down the reproduction number for the virus.