First of all, keep in mind that the number of new Kovid cases on a daily basis in the country has increased significantly over the past year, so it is not unprecedented that it is increasing even now. But some things have changed. On 11 September 2020, we received 97,654 new cases. Looking at the daily count going up a month ago, on September 11th, it seemed only a few days before we could touch 100,000 new cases in a day. Now by itself, this is not a particularly significant number except for a good round one that causes a good milestone. Just like we were ready to zoom in beyond the milestone, we didn’t. The daily numbers began to flatten. They remained at 90,000 for a few more days — reaching a high of 97,859 on September 16 — and then began to fall.
Here is a sure sign that we have reached a kind of corona peak. Over the next two months, the downward trend in daily counts is as good as the upward trend in the two months before the mid-September peak.
The decline slowed down a bit after that, but did not stop. In fact, the number of new cases per day dropped not only for two months, but also steadily to that maximum for five months. As of February 8 this year, there were only 8,957 new cases in India, a type we have not seen since the beginning of June 2020. It has been declining for a long time, and 8,957 are low enough compared to September 97,859, we hit this virus to convince ourselves. With the availability of vaccines and the rate of vaccination evaporating at the same time, it is easy to believe that this epidemic will soon be a thing of the past in India, almost seductive.
How quickly things change.
Before we examine it, let’s take a look at past and present numbers. Earlier in 2020, the growth rate in new Kovid cases was alarming. For example, on April 19 we had 1,580 new cases, an increase of 10.05% over that day. This is a sharp increase by any standards. However, this is to be expected, as the pool of infections is much smaller than it used to be – on April 19 there were only 17,305 cases in India. As of June 2, we had 8,821 new Kovid cases, but a total of 207,191 cases. So the total number of cases increased by 4.4%, which is ten times higher than it was on April 19.
Just three months later, on September 16th, we had a total of 5,115,893 cases, now twenty times more than in June. So 97,859 new cases that day represent an increase of just 1.95%. What does this tell us? Even with the rise of nearly 100,000 new cases per day, in view of that milestone, growth has slowed. It fell to 1.95% from 10.05% in five months. This slowdown indicates the peak we reached in September.
We really fell a lot from that peak. While we had only 8,957 new cases on February 8, the total number of cases was approximately 11 million; So the increase that day was just 0.08%. The vision it has brought to us is truly mesmerizing: daily growth will soon drop to very zero. From 10.05% to 4.4% to 1.95% to 0.08%, we can expect for zero. No wonder movie theaters are starting to open and parks are starting to fill up … After months of caution, a return to normal life is imminent.
But it’s just a dream, it’s just a dream.
Since that February day, the number of new cases has been increasing daily. By the end of that month, they were at 16,000. By the third week of March they had crossed 50,000. On April 4, we did not touch the 100,000 milestone we saw last September, registering 103,793 new cases. We have crossed the 150,000 milestone since then and with 185,248 cases on April 13, by the time you read this, we are likely to have left the 200,000 milestone mark.
Two things to note about this latest increase. First: As of April 13, we have about 14 million cases. 185,248 new cases that day were only 1.35%. “Only”, because it’s small compared to the percentage increase we saw last year. But second: Compare February 8 instead of the minimum: it’s almost 17 times higher than 0.08% that day.
In some respects: by 2020, it took 50 days from late July to September 16 for the number of new cases to double from 50,000 to almost 100,000 per day. That translates into a 1.4% increase every day in those calculations. This year, the same doubling (50,000 to 100,000) took place between March 24 and April 4 – an increase of 11 days or 6.5% from day one. That rate does not show a sign of slowing down, so when you read this the number of new cases will double and cross the 200,000 milestone.
Often with toys, there are different ways to look at them, some of which can be reassuring. With these recent corona numbers in India, it is difficult to see the silver lining. In fact, more than numbers, the speed with which we are adding new corona infections is a matter of real concern of this latest surge in our battle with the virus.
When the war began a year ago, we heard many and many times about the need to “smooth out the curve”. This means that we have to somehow reduce the number of infections. Instead, there is an almost silent identification that a brush with a virus will inevitably, ruthlessly, infect a large number of us; There is no easy way to significantly reduce that large number. However, we could not allow numbers to overwhelm our health care system. Then, slowing down the increase in case numbers — that is, flattening the curve. That’s why we have measures like masks and distance, hand washing and curfews, closed theaters and restricting public transport.
Follow such steps, the idea is advanced and the number of people in need of care at any given time is manageable. In addition, we buy time to increase our health care facilities in this way.
How far we have been able to achieve these things, I am not sure. We don’t hear much about flattening curves. Yet what is frightening about the latest surge of Kovid infections is how far the curve really is from the flat. It was almost flat in February. But since then, it has been on the sides of a blurred steep mountain.
It’s a mountain that you and I climb together.
Dilip D’Souza, once a computer scientist, now lives in Mumbai and writes for his dinners. His Twitter handle eDetEndSfun