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COVID-19: India set to climb the ranks?

India has witnessed new daily cases of COVID-19 surpass 70,000 for the first time. In the days surrounding this peak, new cases have numbered just short of 70,000. 

Coronavirus in world. Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV. Concept of coronavirus with flag of India. Illustration of COVID-19 case count. Coronavirus pandemic in India. Active COVID-19 cases. Image credit: Image credit: quatrox / 123rf. COVID-19 vaccine illustration. New COVID-19 cases concept.
Image credit: quatrox / 123rf

This figure places India as the fastest growing country for COVID-19 cases in the world. It is a figure roughly 25,000 higher than in either Brazil or the US — the two countries with higher overall figures than India at the time of writing. Such an increase could soon see India surpassing Brazil in overall cases in the coming weeks or months. Such a possibility is even true of the US — currently holding the top spot in COVID-19 cases — as daily cases counts have reduced in the previous days. 

India has the distinction — held by only itself and China — of having a population in excess of a billion people. Such a vast population predisposes the two nations to the potential for far higher numbers during disease outbreaks. China, according to their reporting, has all but suppressed the COVID-19 crisis within the nation. This leaves India as the sole country with such a staggering population that still bears the brunt of the pandemic.

Given the sheer volume of India’s population, coupled with population density within India’s urban metropolises, it has been speculated throughout the year that India could become one of the most severely affected nations. 

The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) acknowledges this fact, citing fears of densely populated areas fuelling the spread of COVID-19: “Adding to this fear was that the only known preventive measure for the  spread of the coronavirus—the practice of physical distancing—was an almost impossible feat for India, considering that on an average every sixth Indian lives in slums with high population densities, poor environmental sanitation and overcrowded medical infrastructure.”

Some experts have suggested cautious optimism may be warranted. As Health Issues India recently reported

“Experts have observed that a mutated strain of COVID-19, one that appears to be more easily able to infect individuals, may actually be beneficial. Paul Tambyah, senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, has noted that evidence suggests the proliferation of the D614G mutation of the coronavirus in some nations has coincided with a drop in death rates.”

However, it cannot be ignored that India’s total deaths now number in excess of 55,000. The COVID-19 pandemic could soon result in India being the most-affected country if case counts continue to rise as they have in previous weeks.

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