The Mystery Of India’s Plummeting COVID-19 Cases
As the developed world reels under second and third waves of Covid infections, India’s case count continues to decline relentlessly defying all reason. Experts were sure of an outbreak post the festive season when Indians were out and about in hordes crowding shopping areas like ever. Yet the numbers didn’t show any signs of that. And even the biggest critics of the government have stopped blaming it on under-reporting. Indeed, activity is back to almost full swing (other than physical schools). Most conversations these days involve an attempt to explain this but to no avail. This piece in the NPR says the experts know no better either. It cites some studies somewhat attributing it to the most commonly known reasons such as India’s younger population, our immunity thanks to our exposure to other diseases and the climate (heat an humidity). But none too conclusive.
“They’re not based on any biological data. So they’re good for generating a hypothesis, but now we really need to do the studies that will result in explanations,” says Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases researcher at the Christian Medical College in Vellore. “I hope scientists work more on this soon. We need deeper dives into India’s immune responses.”
…The truth is, scientists just don’t know.
“Three options: One is that it’s gone because of the way people behaved, so we need to continue that behavior. Or it’s gone because it’s gone and it’s never going to come back — great!” says Das, from Georgetown. “Or it’s gone, but we don’t know why it’s gone — and it may come back.”
That last option is what keeps scientists and public health experts up at night.
So for now, Indians are kind of holding their breath — just doing what they’re doing — until they get vaccinated…
…”It’s the million-dollar question. Obviously, the classic public health measures are working: Testing has increased, people are going to hospitals earlier and deaths have dropped,” says Genevie Fernandes, a public health researcher with the Global Health Governance Programme at the University of Edinburgh. “But it’s really still a mystery. It’s very easy to get complacent, especially because many parts of the world are going through second and third waves. We need to be on our guard.”