India and COVID-19

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India Is the World’s Second-Most Populous Country. Can It Handle the Coronavirus Outbreak?:

India has conducted nearly 5,000 COVID-19 tests so far, according to the World Health Organization, which says that the “country is responding with urgency as well as transparency.” But so far, India has only reported 74 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death, on Thursday. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute tells TIME that count is “just not right.” He believes there must be many more cases, but they have just not been identified. “I’m deeply worried that there’s a lot of community transmission and we are just not aware of it because there is not widespread testing,” he says.

Kushal Mehra assures me the hospitals don’t report anything crazy. It’s been a while, how come there hasn’t been a major outbreak? Some researchers suggest a warm climate (others are skeptical).

What are you guys hearing? While India and Pakistan have very few cases, Iran is now above 10,000 (likely far more). There are mass graves being dug outside of Qom.

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44 Replies to “India and COVID-19”

  1. One possibility could be that South Asia has had a regionally limited disease outbreak in living history that is ill documented but was sufficiently similar in molecular makeup to COVID-19 that the population has more immunity than other regions.

    Temperature doesn’t make much sense because Wuhan is pretty warm itself.

    1. Temperature doesn’t make much sense because Wuhan is pretty warm itself.

      china is the coldest part of its latitude cuz of siberian winter exposure. average highs of 47 degrees is not ‘pretty warm’ (january)

  2. Just to the point about Wuhan being warm: average high temp in Jan was 47 F and 51F. This is not the warm, and way colder than most of India except the far north.
    Not sure if the temperature theory is correct but I sure hope so for.the sake of India

  3. “Thursday. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute tells TIME that count is “just not right.” He believes there must be many more cases, but they have just not been identified. “I’m deeply worried that there’s a lot of community transmission and we are just not aware of it because there is not widespread testing,” he says.”

    The libtard Jha who loathes his own country (the United States by the way) has no clue what he is talking about. They are even testing in Iran

    https://telanganatoday.com/india-to-set-up-lab-in-iran-for-testing-covid-19-harsh-vardhan

    and bring hundreds of people back home.

  4. Getting a ton of messages on the virus from Indians. At this moment there isn’t evidence of a Corona Virus outbreak in India. Inshallah this will remain true.

  5. I agree with both Dr Jha and Mehra. The hospitals would not hold back news if there is outbreak, but its possible that there is an outbreak, and because the symptoms are pretty similar to flu and all , people are either not getting tested nor do Govt and middle tier hospitals have equipment and resources to conduct wide scale testing.

  6. So one of the main indicators of a widespread virus is if the icus were being overwhelmed with people presenting sever symptoms.

    Haven’t heard about that happening in India yet.

  7. Another thought on this is that the median age in India 27 years old.

    Sub-saharan african countries also have a very young average age.

    Since young people have fairly mild symptoms generally it could be limiting the impact on hospitals being overwhelmed etc.

    Alongside warm weather and other potential mitigating factors.

  8. A low UV index, which often corresponds to temperature but not always, looks like a candidate for increasing virulence.

    We know certain wavelengths of UV are generally anti-viral. There’s the vitamin D/immunity angle, as well as the “the sun’s out, no need to stay indoors and breathe each other’s air” factor. I looked at the UV index of the affected regions and it seems to hold pretty well as a possible factor (except for perhaps Iran).

    https://twitter.com/e_cdalton/status/1237580256870936576?s=20

  9. The Government is pretty much doing more than few Western countries. Am not saying this out of nationalistic fevour, I have seen the GOI take preemptive action like screening steps much before others and they r constantly providing info to the general public. Let see how it goes. Want to be optimistic. If things go downstream, then China like lockdowns I guess. Kerala has already started that. Dekehge Kya hogha….

  10. The low number of cases is not only true of India, but also all of South Asia and South East Asia. None of these countries have reported a major outbreak, which has an exponential growth phase. One common factor all these countries have is the similar temperature range, more or less.

    On the other hand the top 18 countries for the highest number of cases, and have out breaks with exponential growth, are all having a low temperature range between 0C – 15C.

    These are glaring facts. I wonder why nobody has caught on to this? There are 2 research papers suggesting the average temperature of 8C is the most virulent for Covid-19.

    1. According to my friends in India apparently the measures are fairly strong…

      1. All flights are cancelled into the country for non-indians for 30 days (including Overseas Citizen of India)

      2. Every phone call plays a prerecorded warning about the coronavirus

      3. The government has even created a children’s book to generate awareness.
      (https://www.mohfw.gov.in/Corona_comic_PGI.pdf)

  11. After reading twitter messages , the impression is that testing , say measuring temp and mouth cover , is far more common in Indian public places like airports and hotels than in the US for the last 6 weeks. But it does not explain the lack of an outbreak. It only shows sections of society are more prepared than others.

    I think India should go for immediate total lock down so as to keep the numbers low as now. Ban all public gatherings

  12. The temperature number doesn’t tell whole story of cold. Northern Italy is FREEZING cold in the winter, it FEELS far colder that the thermometer, compared to comparable C in UK. Its a bone chilling cold that you don’t get in UK at same temps.

    But, I think similar to your previous COVID posts, you are not factoring in the possibility that far many more thousands/millions of people have already contracted the disesase and simply haven’t reported and aren’t in the figures. 80,000 in China? That’s about 0.005% of the population. What if the actual figure is in the millions? Then the death rate is 0.0 something %.

  13. There’s a recent paper in the American Economic Review that observes, on certain big push policies (The space mission, mass vaccinations, elections, biometrics), the GoI’s state capacity is quite good. However, its quite bad at public services, partially due to the issues at local and state levels.

    https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2020/02/why-does-the-indian-state-both-fail-and-succeed.html

    The question is what kind of state capacity and political culture matters more?

  14. “This is government-sponsored misinformation,” Sinha says. “It’s a lot more dangerous. It’s misinformation coming from people who are very influential.”

    What do they mean by “government-sponsored misinformation” ? Do they mean by government paying money to individuals to peddle that bullshit (literally) cures COVID-19 or govt putting up/distributing bill boards/pamphlets telling people that some quackery cures COVID-19. Homeopathy is still a legit way of treatment in India and there are thousands of “Doctors” with BHMS degrees
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachelor_of_Homeopathic_Medicine_and_Surgery

    I know that a lot of Indians (Hindus and Muslims) believe in miracle curing powers of certain things that have remote links to their culture/religion.

  15. India had more lead time to learn of the dangers. So it has airport screening, contact tracing, visa cancellation, quarantining at an earlier stage . Also Bangalore and Delhi have closed schools/malls etc now at a much earlier stage when the community spread is low than when other cities like Seattle took similar action. Govts across the board seem to be pro-active.
    In addition to lead time theory/weather theory etc, there is a theory that when it comes to a crises the normally lethargic Indian govt/administration springs to action. Indian bureaucracy performs poorly on routine activities but performs well on mission mode projects such as conducting elections for 600 million voters( which it does far better than US).
    Having said that it is still too early to judge. Need to check how the situation plays out over the next couple of months

    1. Don’t have a medical background but it seems pretty obvious that the number of cases is much higher than being reported as we just aren’t testing many people (here in the states).

  16. Just read the article. My thoughts are:
    What is the title of the article and what the article progesses into with the mention of same old BJP ,RW ,Nationalism, ayurveda, unani, cow whatever.
    Although some ayurveda practicitioners have said to eat healthy home cooked diet and other ayurvedic medicines . In their view it will help improve the immunity and not cure the virus.
    Most of the people in india aren’t participating in drinking cow urine . This article approaches such that a foreign viewers(after reading) think that all BJP Supporters are dumb and mad and do everything that the whatsapp forwards say to do.
    The mention of poverty,rural areas ,slums etc is the main theme of the latter half of the article. We know that people are poor and government infrastructure is weak and not capable to carry many patients, but still people aren’t that dumb that they will not follow basic hygiene.
    The bus comment wasn’t even necessary.
    Exercise,Yoga is necessary to improve immunity and nothing that can cure coronavirus . Nobody is saying from the news I’ve heard.
    As i am reading the aricle i said to myself ” why do this type of information even included in this article?”
    Can someone tell me about Alt-News ?
    Heard of it when i used to watch Dhruv Rathee.

    1. While the basic question the article poses is important, the actual article has its own ax to grind. Doesn’t explore any of the important theories like weather, lead time effect, degree of contentedness of India with China/Italy etc. Actual health infra being poor is accurate which is a danger if there is a full blown outbreak.
      From anecdotal data, I have observed that people do use unscientific homeopathy in India but only when the situation doesn’t actually warrant using allopathic medicine/visit to the hospital like minor headaches etc. They are not seen as substitutes. I have not seen any family use cow urine at all. Considerable straw manning in the article without actual mentioning any of the measures taken by Govt and past handling of Nipah. SARS etc. Rescue protocols for students from Wuhan etc in, airport screening etc.
      Alt news has no credibility. Its credibility suffered a damaging blow when it claimed that stone pelters had wallets instead of stones in their hands. I’m surprised that Alt news passed the editorial checks of Time. But then again they are poorly informed about Indian media/ India in general.

  17. i just caught up with Kushal.

    either the Global South (with exceptions) have awful reporting standards (likely) or may COVID-19 may be a prosperity disease (it’s hitting liberal rich democracies that have the climate and political system that are open to it).

    the eerieness with which Britain is operating is somewhat stressful
    i’ve borrowed an excel sheet from a friend.

    India is at 81 cases which is where Britain was on the 5th of March (8 days ago). I do expect that India either exceed or at least match britain’s trajectoty (it took us 8 days to reach 798)..

    1. That would be the exponential path it would likely follow.
      But does it make a difference if most of the 81 people are those with a travel history to Italy etc. versus the number of cases of community spread. I don’t know if the proportions of the two different types makes any difference. Curious to know.

    2. \81 cases which is where Britain was on the 5th of March (8 days ago). I do expect that India either exceed or at least match britain’s trajectoty (it took us 8 days to reach 798)..\

      The government said on Friday it estimated the true number of UK cases to be around 5,000 to 10,000. -BBC.

    3. Xerex the Magician said.

      “it’s hitting liberal rich democracies”

      Iran being one of them.

  18. Update from Sri Lanka

    Total Count 5: 1 recovered (Chinese) and left country. (as of 2020/03/14)
    I guess will be a test of whether Covid19 has reduced transmission rates in Warm climates (my theory).
    29 others are in observation for the virus including 8 foreigners.

    All Schools closed until April 20th.

    1st case of locally transmitted in SL Admitted to IDH (infectious disease hospital). A tour guide accompanying a group of four Italian Tourists since 25th Feb. The Italian Tourists have left the country on March 7th (confirmed).

    All other Sri Lankans returnees from Italy and Germany before mandatory quarantine was put in place on March 10th

    Two others also >>suspected<The patient on the pilgrimage to Somawathiya had
    >returned to Sri Lanka before March 10 and had
    >tripped around the country visiting several places.

    Son of Tourist guide has not contracted the virus

    http://www.adaderana.lk/news_intensedebate.php?nid=61325

    http://www.adaderana.lk/news/61321/two-admitted-to-polonnaruwa-hospital-on-coronavirus-suspicions

    Tour guide and Tourists
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=809310872879388&id=100014014474339

    The Sri Lanka Epidemiology Unit gives a daily update.
    I am Not quite sure how to interpret the Cumulative columns.
    http://www.epid.gov.lk/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=225&lang=en

  19. Put simply, medics found that severely ill flu patients nursed outdoors recovered better than those treated indoors. A combination of fresh air and sunlight seems to have prevented deaths among patients; and infections among medical staff.[1] There is scientific support for this. Research shows that outdoor air is a natural disinfectant. Fresh air can kill the flu virus and other harmful germs. Equally, sunlight is germicidal and there is now evidence it can kill the flu virus.

    https://medium.com/@ra.hobday/coronavirus-and-the-sun-a-lesson-from-the-1918-influenza-pandemic-509151dc8065

    1. @sbarrkum

      The air outdoors in places like Delhi will kill everything, viruses don’t stand a chance.

  20. The Covid19 version in Italy seems to be very contagious.

    All infected Sri Lankans have got it thru Italy
    6 infected in Italy and returned to Sri Lanka
    1 infected locally got it by being a tour guide to 4 Italian tourist.

    In contrast the Sri Lankan returnees from China (Wuhan) and Korea have not been diagnosed with the virus. They have been under quarantine and I think the 14 days are almost over

    http://www.newswire.lk/2020/03/14/sri-lankas-number-of-active-coronavirus-patients-increased-to-7/

  21. My question is, does India simply have a lower physical interaction with China than other countries?

    Fewer people going back and forth for business and tourism?

  22. Last night, I spoke to my childhood friend who lives in Chennai. I asked him about the virus; he says that life is going on as normal and that there is no sign of the pandemic at this point.

    1. I think Indian medical and social services on whole are complacent. It needs the whole of govt machinery to act and not just few pro-active institutions here and there. When the dam bursts over their head it will be too late to prevent large scale causalities.

      UK also in the same position; in fact even worse , since there are sufficient number of known cases to arrive at a sufficient resolution to take a strong action.

  23. Death is lower than what is reported. Many cases are not symptomatic enough to have warranted testing.

  24. India started reacting way earlier than some EU countries did. In the middle of January. Contact tracing was initiated very intensively to the point that they can backtrace almost half a million air passengers to their streets and in some cases 2nd order tracing is in progress. If only Italy or Spain started this regimen in January, Europe would be much better off now. Instead it is now the locus of the pandemic. Health systems are multi-dimensional – it is food, culture, contact behaviour, reaction modes and of course hospitals and physicians. Only flat-earthers look at hospitals alone and arrive at conclusions about a country’s preparedness.

  25. I have been seeing articles in the press for weeks now, from the Western world, predicting total doom for India with coronavirus on the horizon. When American leaders should have been more concerned about their own lands, apparently spies were being sent to India to look for signs of a hidden coronavirus plague:

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-health-usa-intelligence/u-s-spy-agencies-monitor-coronavirus-spread-concerns-about-india-sources-idUSKCN20L37R

    This Mansoor article from yesterday is appalling. Here are the facts:

    1) India shares a vast border with China, similar in magnitude of length to the US – Mexico border.
    2) India’s had ties with China since ancient times.
    3) India is a poor country.
    4) Despite all this, India has managed to minimize cases of the Covid-19. They have taken strong decisions that Western governments have been incapable of taking.
    5) Beyond this anything is just speculation, which the media always demonizes others for.

    Even worse than this Mansoor, is this fellow Dr. Jha. As “director of the Harvard Global Health Institute” I assume part of this man’s job was to prevent Covid-19 in the United States. WHICH HE FAILED AT. FACT. Instead of doing his job or at least accepting responsibility, now he too is engaging in irresponsible speculation.

    “Jha and other experts worry that misinformation from government officials and BJP lawmakers touting cow products and unproven homeopathic remedies as ways to prevent infection add to the country’s challenges in containing an outbreak.”

    India’s a vast country with a billion people. A few people come out and say whacky things, drink cow piss, which – by and large – the public ignores. But the media seizes on this and amplifies it 100 fold. Now I’ve seen piles of cow shit being slapped on the sides of homes, and after they dry out being used as a cooking fuel. I’ve never seen anyone drinking cow piss, talk about drinking cow piss, or even observed the product up close.

    https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/why-british-economist-jim-oneill-is-wrong-about-indias-response-to-coronavirus-2534549.html

    What are the actual facts? The leadership that counts, which is the Prime Minister, has made the correct decisions:

    “In fact, the Prime Minister has struck the right note by cancelling Holi celebrations yet making sure that Parliament functions. He has also told people to trust doctors and not quacks, not to fall for home remedies etc. ”

    So it looks like the government has put science ahead of religion, but LETS TALK ABOUT FEW PEOPLE DRINKING COW PISS AND MAKE IT SEEM LIKE THAT’S THE OFFICIAL STATE POLICY!

    Dr. Jha is being completely disingenuous. He’s a useful idiot for a media looking for quotes favorable for a story they’ve already prewritten.

    You can contrast India with the U.S. and Europe, which generally have made all the wrong decisions. Too late to ban travel. Quarantines which are suggested and not enforced. Failure to evacuate own citizens. Bungling of health care system resources. Failure to ban gatherings.

    BTW, you guys should check Razib’s latest post on GNXP. From the master himself:

    ” Much of the media is dishonest manipulation and an expression of power. If you don’t know that, you’re an idiot (to be frank).”

    Quoting South Indian:
    “From anecdotal data, I have observed that people do use unscientific homeopathy in India but only when the situation doesn’t actually warrant using allopathic medicine/visit to the hospital like minor headaches etc. They are not seen as substitutes. I have not seen any family use cow urine at all. Considerable straw manning in the article without actual mentioning any of the measures taken by Govt and past handling of Nipah. SARS etc. Rescue protocols for students from Wuhan etc in, airport screening etc.”

    I would tend to agree. In my own experience, people rejecting “Western Medicine” in search of alternative remedies is much greater in the West, and in the US in particular where vaccine conspiracy notions are rather mainstream and even protected as a personal choice decision ignoring the impact on public health. Or the explosion of medical marijuana, where a physician writes a one time prescription with no quantity, no dosing, and a “patient” then goes and blazes up as much they feel like for any number of possible ailments. I’m not trying to get into a debate about legalization or decriminalization, etc., but at least Indians are honest about their intentions when they use that stuff.

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