Where did India end up in the COVID Olympics?

Four months ago, India was the subject of media attention due to a wave of coronavirus infection. Nearly all of the journalists whipped up hysteria by citing absolute numbers of infections and/or deaths in India, not adjusting for the population size. From Coronaplague in India proves Dr. Jeff Goldblum’s theories? (April 14):

In other words, India has suffered more from COVID-19 than a country in which 100 percent of the population died of COVID-19, just as long as that country had only 13 million people.

How bad are things in what TIME and the Guardian say is the worst-plagued country on Earth? The country has suffered 125 COVID-19-tagged deaths per million inhabitants (ranking). That compares to 2,530 per million here in Massachusetts (states ranked; note that this is per 100,000 so multiply by 10). Maybe they will be getting worse, though. If things get 20X as bad as they’ve been in India, the situation will be about as bad as it is right now in Massachusetts.

Readers: What’s your best guess as to how events unfold in India? My guess is based on regression to the mean. India was an outlier (125 deaths per million). When the dust settles, India will be somewhere in the middle (right now the worldwide average is about 375 deaths per million; 3 million deaths in a population of 8 billion). Perhaps we’d have to adjust for the fact that the median age in India is roughly 27, slightly younger than the world median (around 30).

It has been four months. We know that the science is settled. Is it fair to say that “the dust has settled” right now in India? (i.e., that they’re at least between waves of coronavirus infection) If so, how accurate was my prediction of “slightly less than the worldwide average because of India’s slightly younger-than-average population”? We can use Statista’s COVID-19 deaths by country (the most thoroughly masked and shut nations at the top, #BecauseScience) as an authoritative source for India’s death rate (about 314/million). We can take the total deaths on the WHO dashboard (4.33 million) and divide by the number on the Census Bureau’s population clock (7.78 billion) to get the worldwide death rate: 556/million. In other words, after all of the media hysteria it turns out that India has a lower death rate from/with COVID-19 than the world average. What if we compare to the U.S. states? Maskachusetts is at 2,630 per million (a lot of U.S. stats are per 100,000 so we need to multiply by 10), a rate that is 8X higher than India’s.

Let’s also look at predictions from readers…

disevad, who lives in India, said “My intuition is that its going to subside in next 3 weeks or so”.

[i.e., that the peak of “cases” would be roughly May 6, 2021. When was the peak? Our World In Data says… May 6, 2021 (414,118 cases). How about deaths? The peak was around May 17; see Google data below]

RS said, “I wonder if after the panic dies down and wearing masks continues to be something that people in CA and MA do for the rest of their lives it will take on a similar flavor. Wearing a mask during flu season (which will be renamed Corona season as you note) is a sign that they are making healthy choices, and a much easier choice than losing the 20-30 pounds that they gained during lockdown.” To see if this prediction is correct we have to wait until the winter to see if the masks sprout, but we can check right now to see if our neighbors are still fat.

Viking said, “By the time it is obvious India is past the peak, say daily deaths are down to 650/day, I expect 200 to 300 cumulative deaths per million. So 8 to 12% of Maskachusetts rate.” [The above numbers work out to 12%!]


13 thoughts on “Where did India end up in the COVID Olympics?

  1. What’s also interesting to me, at least anecdotally, is that I remember the early days of the pandemic in India when the reporting and treatment seemed to be largely confined to the wealthier parts of the big cities, etc. If anyone was getting sick or dying among the much larger masses, it seemed to me that it just wasn’t being reported. The second wave during May above probably corresponds to wider spread and reporting among the (much) larger population.

    • This is still the case: last I checked something like half the positive tests in India were coming from the southern state of Kerala, which is only a few % of the country’s population, wealthy by Indian standards and has probably the best health care system in the country. This implies that either a) for some odd reason COVID is particularly prevalent in this wealthy state, or b) COVID testing is widely lacking in the rest of the country, and the published stats are capturing only a fraction of the real cases (I’ve seen 20x credibly estimated from serology tests).

  2. Before India, it was countries in South America, such as Brazil. News reporting made it sound, just like it was for India, civilization in those countries is doomed.

    The reporting itself painted a picture of doomsday apocalypse such as the good-dowers here in USA started to lock themselves home even when the virus was 1000’s of miles away from them.

  3. As long as we can keep making vaccines fast enough to defeat the latest mutations, print money to pay for it, & bypass the FDA paperwork, the problem is over. Anyone who puts full faith & credit in 50 year FDA approvals can just eat the consequences.

  4. Ivermectin Wins in India 
    News of India’s defeat of the Delta variant should be common knowledge. It is just about as obvious as the nose on one’s face. It is so clear when one looks at the graphs that no one can deny it … this data shows how Ivermectin knocked their COVID-19 cases and deaths – which we know were Delta Variant – down to almost zero within weeks.

    chart of results: https://imgur.com/a/rifgTDS

    source article: https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/indias-ivermectin-blackout

  5. India won its first ever gold medal in track and field ever, in the javelin throw in Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics. The only gold medal but it is a great start.

  6. It’s hard to fully trust Indian numbers, but regardless the interesting question why Maskachussets is so high in the first place? It healthy rich state in moderate-to-cold climate and population is used to infections, why COVID deaths are so high?

  7. More than a million died in India. The official number is half that. Abject failure. Do we really want to follow their lead?

    • Osman: If we don’t have to adjust for population size, the country whose lead we should follow is San Marino, where only 90 people have died with/from COVID-19. (Once you divide by the population, though, you’ll find that this is a higher death rate than what the U.S. has suffered.)

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