It has been previously reasoned out that the data for COVID-19 inFections in India is too low and incorrect, due to the very low actual number of testings. Therefore, the actual number of inFection cases in the MoHFW data and in the above map is misleading and incorrect. It is too low. The real figures will be a big multiple of it. We just don’t know the real extent. It can only be estimated through mathematical models.
However, the map gives a realistic idea of the geographical spread of COVID-19 in India. It should caution anyone that it has reached close to home.
The lockdown and safety protocols stipulated by the Government of India are very important. It has to be followed and respected. It is our best defense for survival. I support it.
The RED line for India is proof that the deaths in India due to COVID-19 are at par with global trends for other countries. Taking the day-to-day data for cumulative Deaths per 1000 InFections (measured real data), India is showing a trend that is higher than that for Germany, South Korea, Australia, Canada, China and the US. It is lower compared to France, UK, Spain and Italy. So, it would be wrong to conclude that India has lower deaths than other countries due to inbuilt immunity, BCG vaccine or geographic temperature.
I have brilliant friends around the world who have been thinking about the impact of COVID-19 on India. Initially, we debated on the low number of inFections in India. Eventually we all agreed that the published data on inFections in India is incorrect, since the number of tests/million is very low. No dispute here.
However, questions started pouring in that if the detected inFections are low in India, the data should at least show up in the death statistics. The logic was that there is bound to be lot more undetected inFections in the country and some of these folks would get really sick and would have to eventually reach a hospital for care. Sadly, some of them would succumb and this should show up in the mortality data.
As on 11 Apr 2020, the published data from JHUM (John Hopkins University and Medicine) for India indicated 288 deaths. This is a rather low number for the second most populous country in the world.
We examined many theories floating around. It was speculated that the Indian people had fantastic immunity. Some speculated that Indian’s had resistance because of the BCG vaccine, given for tuberculosis (TB), since it is part of the childhood immunization program. Others felt that it was because of the higher temperature in India, especially due to the onset of summer.
One needs to examine data carefully before drawing conclusions.
As on date (11 Apr 2020) it is tempting to compare the 288 deaths in India (1366 million people) with that in other countries. For example, Italy (61 million people) has 19,648 deaths. But, keep in mind that the exponential growth of inFections in India stared on 22 Mar 2020 (Day-1 for India), while in Italy it started on 26 Feb 2020 (Day-1 for Italy). We are off by a month, if we just look at the data based on the calendar. I have found that when inFections reach about 400 in any country, the exponential growth phase begins. So, taking that point as Day-1, we can transform all the country data to a common starting origin. We can then begin to compare for an equal time lapse.
In addition, we have to remove errors in sampling. An effective way to examine the data is to calculate the day-to-day metric of “measured deaths per 1000 inFections”. By doing this we can remove some of the errors in sampling. For example, if we claim that the number of people tested is not sufficient, then there is a sampling error in the inFection data. But, if we take the ratio of such inFection data and match it with measured deaths, the errors would mathematically cancel out (at least to a large extent). Implicit in this argument is the fact that measured deaths will arise from measured inFections.
Therefore, the graph at the very top, is quite stunning in its result. It visually shows that India is following the death trend for other countries. It is somewhere in the median position. Its trend is actually higher than that for Germany, South Korea, Australia, Canada, China and the US. It is lower compared to France, UK, Spain and Italy. Variations in the relative positions in the graph can be attributed to the accessibility and quality of health care in a given country.
The graph also reveals another startling fact. It is telling us that the death/inFection ratio can skyrocket all of a sudden. For example, France and India have similar datum values until Day-15. Then France suddenly shoots up. Why is this? I attribute it to the inability of the medical care to cope up with the critical cases.
India has data for 21 days during its exponential growth (22 Mar 2020 to 11 Apr 2020). I have computed the average for the first 21 days for all the countries that I have analyzed. India has an average ratio of 26.37 compared to 22.87, which is the average for all the countries. The graph below shows this visually.
InfLection point Slope of growth curve begins to decrease. Slowdown in InFection
04 May 2020 = Day-45
Start of assymptote (based on trends) InFection new cases begin to rapidly decline.
20 May 2020 = Day-60
Expect a true asymptote. Rapid decline in new InFections. Rate of new InFections tending to zero. Very small number of new cases each day.
22 Mar 2020
31 Mar 2020
05 Apr 2020
10 Apr 2020
15 Apr 2020
20 Apr 2020
25 Apr 2020
The above are Predictions are based on the Italian infection raw data model. For their validity the standards of Lockdown and Social Distancing in India should be at par with that in Italy. The above Predictions would reveal in the testing data for India, provided India does a minimum 1500+ Tests/Million of population. There are also people with infections who never get tested and as such the true infection could be higher than predicted values by a factor of 5 to 10. For example, in Italy the true infections are projected to be 10 times higher than the published tested data.
Published India Infection Data – Paints a Faulty Picture
The published India infection data from the John Hopkins University (JHU) data set is faulty. JHU sources its data from the Government of India portals. The problem with this data is that it is based on 32 Tests/Million people in India. Comparing with other developed countries, the quantum of these tests are so low, that it does not reflect a representative sample of the population. So, the existing data for India, at least from 22 Mar 2020 to 31 Mar 2020, is useless to start building a model for prediction.
Italian Infection Model is a Good Benchmark
The infection raw data for Italy, based on my analysis in previous articles, is a good benchmark for predicting the infection trends in other countries. I have found that once the infections reach a value of 400, the trajectory follows an exponential curve. The corresponding date is taken as Day-1 and all countries can start at the same point on a common graph. The analysis has also shown that the exponential curve for Italy can be scaled with PR and MF to model the infection grown curves for other countries.
This graph contains the real day-to-day data of COVID-19 infections for several countries. The PR ratio is shown in the legend. The idea is that if PR is more than 1 the curve should fall below Italy (blue line) and if it is less than 1 it should fall below Italy. US and Germany show this trend (PR > 1). Canada and South Korea are way below (PR < 1). England and France are close to Italy (PR close to 1). China is an anomaly, since it is hovering close to Italy, though its PR is 23.68! Thats because China’s data is tainted. India’s data is also tainted, since it is falling way below the curve for Italy. In conclusion the Italian curve is a good bench mark.
It must be noted that to bank on this model, the remedial measures such as lockdown and quarantine norms must be similar in all the countries. Otherwise there will be variations. For this reason, Spain is higher than it should be for its PR value. It is likely that Spain’s lockdown was not as effective as that of Italy.
Predicting the Infections based on Italian Model
Based on the above reasoning, using the Italian curve, other countries can be modeled by multiplying the Italian infection raw data with the PR.
First, a polynomial was established to fit the Italian infection raw data.
I first met this majestic tree in 1982, which stood tall on Bannerghatta Road, just after Basavanapura. It’s been my buddy for 36 years. It was a big old tree back then and more so now. The land adjacent to it is our workplace, from my father’s time. This tree has seen me grow up, it has seen me come and go. It has weathered 100’s of monsoons and has sheltered many a dog, cow, goat, bird, bat and cat. When I arrive at this spot, I know I have come home.
This evening, at about 6:00 p.m., I drove back to my office, but the road was choked with traffic. I finally made it to the gate, only to see my buddy being cut down. I was chocked with emotion. The only thought in my mind was to stop the bleeding.
I met the tree butchers and quizzed them. No one was in charge. One guy, appeared to be the leader and I asked him for the permits to cut the tree. He had none. He told me that his boss, the BBMP contractor, Shekar, had the permits and that I should speak with him. I called Shekar, who stated that he had the permits and that he had given it to the Police and BESCOM. I called the Hulimavu Police station and they told me that they do not know about the tree cut. They asked me to contact the control room (100). I called them and explained the situation. They gave me the number of the Forest Officer In-Charge, Mahesh.
I called Mahesh and explained the matter. I asked him if permits were granted to cut the tree. He was not too sure and asked me send photographs via WhatsApp. He mentioned that some trees were being cut down for road widening. I told him that the tree was being cut in the middle of rush hour (6:00 – 6:30 p.m.) and that it was a serious safety issue. I specifically told him that it was crazy to fell a tree with hundreds of vehicles passing by – buses, lorries, vans, cars, scooters and bikes.
After I had spoken to the Police and the Forest Officer, the tree butchers had quickly gathered the debris on their bikes and vans and scooted away by 6:40 p.m. Why run, if they were following the Law?
I have many troubling questions regarding the maiming of my tree buddy.
Has the BBMP issued a permit to cut this particular tree? If so, who authorized it?
Has the BBMP carried out a honest environmental impact study on the trees to be felled for road widening on Bannerghatta Road?
Assuming that the permit was granted, why did they have to butcher this tree during rush hour, endangering the public?
Why was the Police not present to control the traffic and protect citizens from falling debris?
Why did the tree butchers carry away the cut up portions on their personal bikes and vans?
The tree has a right to live. If it has to be chopped, in the name of city development, let the Government do it with responsibility. There should be an engineer in charge to explain it to the public and share the permits, while the butchering was done. It should be mandatory for the Government to post Police to safeguard the public from injury, while the tree was being cut. Common sense would dictate that the tree should not be cut, when a high density of vehicles were plying by.
If my tree buddy has to be butchered, in the name of development, let it be done with due process, with dignity and within the framework of the Law. I still hope that I can do something, so that what is left of it can live. Maybe if the tree lovers of Bangalore and the World voice their opinion, it would live to see another day. Good night my lovely tree. I know that you are crying and I cry with you tonight.