Saturday, June 6, 2020
Home Opinions Fighting the curve: Seven days to save India

Fighting the curve: Seven days to save India

It is at times like these that you understand the full meaning of the ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."

Also Read

Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

Yesterday, Italy reported 368 deaths from the Wuhan Corona virus pandemic. The day before, it was 250 deaths. The crisis of a generation is unfolding before our very eyes. The horror of exponential growth is beginning to sink in.

When you look at how the numbers exploded in China, Italy, France, the US and Iran, it is easy to get a sinking feeling that the world is coming to an end. However, in fighting this crisis, numbers and data will play almost as big a role as healthcare services. The cases are bound to go up every single day. But by how much and how fast? It is only these numbers that can tell us if we are winning.

This very informative graphic from the Times of India tells us the story of how other countries have fared so far.

Untitled
How countries have fared on coronavirus (image: TimesofIndia)

In China and Korea, the number of cases were initially growing at a terrifying rate of doubling every day. At this rate, it would have engulfed those countries in no time. Since then, with intensive lockdowns and social distancing, the curves have flattened out. European countries like Spain, France, Germany and Italy are stuck in the same zone, with cases doubling every 2-3 days.

So while it may appear that Italy is ‘worst affected,’ the truth is that France, Germany and Spain are doing just as badly. Italy just happens to be further along the curve than these countries are.

What really matters here is not the total number of cases, but the slope of this curve. You can see that Japan seems to have done a much better job, with cases doubling every week. In Hong Kong, they have performed very admirably, where it might take a whole month for the number of cases to double.

So where is India? By Sunday night we had 110 cases, up by 10% from 100 the night before. This Wikipedia graphic seems particularly helpful.

COVID-19 cases in India
COVID-19 cases in India (image: Wikipedia)

Every digit in this graphic matters. Say 111 cases may not feel like it is a lot more than 110 cases. But the fact is that 111 represents a growth of 11% over the previous day, whereas 110 represents growth of 10%. When dealing with exponential growth, every little bit counts. If the number of cases yesterday had been 115, that would have been 15% growth. Although that’s just 5 more than 110, think about, say, the difference between an interest rate of 10% and an interest rate of 15%. The cumulative effect is enormous.

The number of cases in India has roughly doubled in 1 week, which suggests we are closer to the path of Japan.

Let us consider the most terrifying question first. Is it going to get as bad as Italy or USA?

Untitled
COVID-19 cases in Italy

You can see that once the case number reached 80 or so, it began to explode. And since then, it has been growing daily at rates well over 20%. From 80, it jumped straight to 150 the next day and 227 the next.

In India’s case, we were at 77 on March 12. We were at 110 by the end of March 15. And you can see at a glance that our daily growth rates are well below 20%. That’s a huge difference.

The picture from the US is even more heartbreaking.

Untitled

Though the US has a lot fewer cases than Italy, the situation of the former is actually much more grim. The daily growth rate is breaking 30% fairly regularly, with several above 40%! This looks like apocalypse. No doubt about it.

India went from 77 to 110 in 3 days. The US went from 85 to 252 in 3 days. Significant difference.

There are some obvious questions people might ask here about India. Are we testing enough people? Perhaps our case numbers are also growing at those terrifying rates and we just don’t know?

Well, not very likely for at least two reasons:

(1) When case numbers were around 80-100 in either US or Italy, those countries were pretty chilled out about the disaster, hardly testing anyone. They were caught napping. If anything, we are probably testing people much more than they were back when they were at our level.

(2) It makes very little sense to consider number of tests per unit of population. A virus does not spread evenly. It starts with incoming foreign travelers  and radiates out of a center. As long as we can trace those rays efficiently and test the people who come in contact, we are doing fine. The rest of the population barely matters. The total international air traffic to India would be much less than the US. That’s what we need to look at.

Let us take one more look, this time at Brazil, a country where the number of cases has not piled into the thousands yet.

Untitled

On March 11, India and Brazil had almost the same number of cases (~70). On March 14, Brazil reached 180 and India 100. See how quickly the gap has opened up.

It is of course way too early to celebrate. There is no room for complacency. But remember that an exponential curve is extremely unforgiving and differences in growth rates will show up very quickly. This is one instance in which early numbers can be taken quite seriously.

So there is grounds for cautious optimism. As of this moment. We do not know for sure what tomorrow will bring. Or even the next hour. Everything could fall apart any second.

The next seven days are crucial. And each one of us is a soldier in this fight.

Bear in mind that we do not even know what it means to “survive” the crisis. For now, we can close our borders, halt our economy. But the US and the continent of Europe are being ravaged by the virus right now with no end in sight. We cannot keep everything closed permanently. If 60-70% of the US or Europe get the virus, what do we do? Permanently shut off all contact with them? Nobody knows.

It is at times like these that you understand the full meaning of the ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

Trending now

How AltNews ‘fact-checked’ the pregnant elephant story to shield Muslim suspects, quietly changed copy but continued to peddle agenda

AltNews tried to 'fact-check' the brutal incident that resulted in the death of an elephant in Kerala with the aim to shield the Muslim suspects

US filmmaker says former Pakistan minister Rehman Malik raped her, former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani manhandled her: Watch

Cynthia D. Ritchie said that sexual assault against her by Senator Rehman Malik had happened occurred at Interior Minister's residence in 2011

Congress mouthpiece says ‘Muslims have sat quiet and subdued’: Here is how they are wrong and how their dog-whistling might not work

National Herald published an article that said that the first year of Modi Sarkar 2.0 has been the 'worst possible year' for Muslims in the country.

Is Safoora Zargar being unfairly kept in jail while she is pregnant? Here is what the law says

Safoora Zargar was denied bail and liberals on social media have been calling the order 'remorseless' and 'shameful'.

Media furthers a dangerous narrative, wrongly portrays scuffle between cops and a thug in Rajasthan as ‘India’s George Floyd moment’

There is a stark difference between the George Floyd murder and what happened in Jodhpur when police tried to control a thug who assaulted them

Justice for Bramsh Baloch: An Echo Of Revolution

The current incident of Bramsh Baloch has not only exposed the relation of Pakistani state with the burglars, killers, death squad members, but it also unveiled the hidden dirty faces of Parliamentarians

Recently Popular

Times of India journalist Samina Shaikh tries to shame Hindus over the killing of pregnant elephant in Kerala

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha has the head of an elephant and elephants are also considered holy.

“Your mother was Hindu, how can we trust you?” Read shocking revelations by the niece of Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Nawazuddin Siddiqui and his family refused to believe the niece's allegations stating that they cannot trust the daughter of a Hindu.

Woman ‘protestor’ poops on an overturned police car in middle of riots in America. Watch the video (or maybe not)

A woman was seen defecating on a damaged police car in USA, an act video recorded and photographed by onlookers

After trying to rope in 2nd, 3rd-year MBBS students to manage Coronavirus patients, Maharashtra govt to punish medical interns if they get coronavirus

Medical interns in Maharashtra will be liable to repeat the internship for the quarantine period if they are infected with Coronavirus

GoAir fires trainee officer Asif Khan after screenshots of his Hinduphobic comment went viral on social media

GoAir has terminated the employment of one Asif Khan after his anti-Hindu offensive comments on social media went viral.

One suspect arrested in Kerala pregnant elephant death case, autopsy report reveals she could not eat for two weeks after cracker explosion in mouth

The forest department in Kerala has arrested one suspect in the case of death of a pregnant wild elephant in Kerala

FIR registered in Delhi against journalist Vinod Dua for spreading fake news and creating public nuisance: Read the details

FIR registered by Delhi police against Vinod Dua on the complaint of Delhi BJP spokesperson Naveen Kumar for reporting fake news

How AltNews ‘fact-checked’ the pregnant elephant story to shield Muslim suspects, quietly changed copy but continued to peddle agenda

AltNews tried to 'fact-check' the brutal incident that resulted in the death of an elephant in Kerala with the aim to shield the Muslim suspects

“Indira Gandhi was above all Sharanas”, says Congress leader Siddaramaiah defending naming schemes after her while opposing flyover named after Savarkar

Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah says that Indira Gandhi's statue was even greater than social-reformers such as 'Sharanas'.

US filmmaker says former Pakistan minister Rehman Malik raped her, former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani manhandled her: Watch

Cynthia D. Ritchie said that sexual assault against her by Senator Rehman Malik had happened occurred at Interior Minister's residence in 2011

Second Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita booked under UAPA in the Delhi riots case

Pinjra Tod activist and JNU student Devangana Kalita booked under UAPA for Delhi riots, she is under judicial custody after her arrest

Hackers take down website of Maneka Gandhi’s NGO after she blamed people of Malappuram district for the death of pregnant elephant

The hackers put a message on the web page saying that Maneka Gandhi used the matter of elephant's death for dirty politics.

Former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh apologizes for casteist remark against Yuzvendra Chahal

Yuvraj Singh took to Twitter and expressed regret for the comment which was made during a conversation with Rohit Sharma.

Darbhanga, Bihar: Massive explosion in one Nazir’s house, locals suspect bombs and not firecrackers responsible for blast

Local residents in Darbhanga claimed that the explosion took place at Nazir's house while making bombs and not due to fire crackers.

Markaz management deliberately disregarded police instructions to send back its members, central govt tells SC

Markaz management did not inform about the Tablighi Jamaat gathering to authorities, centre tells SC in affidavit

Meerut police find that more than 13000 phones of Chinese manufacturer Vivo operating on single IMEI number, case registered against the company

When one Meerut Police officer gave his phone to cyber cell for checking, they found that more than 13000 phones have same IMEI number

Connect with us

229,698FansLike
363,800FollowersFollow
246,000SubscribersSubscribe