Picture This: Deaths of apathy

15 July 2021 | Coronavirus, Covid-19, Healthcare


Ever since India was hit by the second wave of Covid-19, news reports and analysis have raised questions about the actual number of Covid deaths in the country. Analysts have tried to explain the reasons and the magnitude of undercounting of Covid deaths in India.

The picture above plots the official data on Covid cases and fatality across Indian states (both updated till 14 July 2021) to see how different states have performed in tackling COVID-19 healthcare challenge.

All India Covid fatality rate (deaths attributed to Covid/confirmed Covid cases) is represented by the red line parallel to the X-axis and the All India Covid caseload (number of cases per lakh of population) is represented by the red line parallel to the Y-axis. Together these two national averages divide the graph into four quadrants. Each bubble on the graph represents a state and the size of the bubble is determined by the number of hospital beds per lakh of population in the state.

Quadrant 1 (top right corner) shows states whose Covid fatality rate and Covid caseload are more than the national average. We find Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh in this quadrant. This represents a bad scenario for a state and shows the higher fatality could have been due to higher burden on the state’s healthcare infrastructure as the cases surged..

Quadrant 2 (top left corner) shows states which have lower than national average Covid caseload but whose fatality rate is higher than the national average. This represents the worst case scenario. It includes states like Punjab (despite high higher hospital bed density), and Jharkhand (low bed density). While Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (with low bed density) lying on the line also seem to have relatively higher fatality rate despite lower caseload.

Quadrant 3 (bottom left corner) shows states where both Covid caseload and fatality rate are lower than the national average. This is the best scenario for a state. We find Gujarat, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Telangana, Assam, and Odisha in this quadrant.

Quadrant 4 (bottom right corner) shows states whose Covid caseload is higher than the national average but the fatality rate is lower. This includes states like, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and the UT of Chandigarh, with most having higher bed density.


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