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Has India overcome the worst of COVID-19?

As of Friday, October 23rd, which saw 54,366 new cases and 690 deaths from COVID-19, India’s total COVID-19 count reached 7,761,312 according to Union Health Ministry data. These numbers, while still alarmingly high, show a significant and sustained drop compared to daily figures from mid-September.

Test and sample virus crown covid virus 19. COVID-19 tests illustration. Image credit: ambrozinio / 123rf
Image credit: ambrozinio / 123rf

India’s daily cases peaked at close to 100,000 in mid-September. These consistent daily figures across the course of the month sparked a worrying trend of gradually increasing daily figures across the previous months with no signs of abating. However, following a peak on September 16th, these figures began to decrease. 

Encouragingly, this decrease has continued for more than a month, with new daily figures near half that of cases occurring one month prior. Active case counts have also reduced significantly, falling from more than one million ongoing cases in mid-September to fewer than 700,000 currently.

There is also the potential that a COVID-19 vaccine may be available in India within the coming months, with the Centre seeming optimistic about the prospect. “We’re expecting that early next year, we should have [a] vaccine in the country from maybe more than one source,” claimed Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. “Our expert groups are already formulating and devising strategies to plan on how to roll out the distribution of the vaccines in the country, who do we give the vaccine first and then of course we are strengthening the cold chain facilities.”

However, as with all positive messaging that has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, now is not the time to ease up on precautions. The US and, in recent weeks, the UK and many other European nations are a case in point. Following cases being significantly reduced following lockdown measures earlier in the year, these countries have since seen second waves that have often eclipsed the number of cases witnessed in the first surge of the pandemic.

While India seemed on track to surpass the US for the position of most affected country in terms of overall COVID-19 cases, this situation has entirely reversed. In recent days the US daily figures have overtaken India’s often by numbers close to 20,000. Should India sustain the consistent decrease over the last month, it may avoid taking this top spot.

With vaccines potentially on the horizon and a consistent decrease in cases, cautious optimism is warranted. However, with so many countries showing the ease of creating a second peak, caution must be advised and efforts redoubled in testing and treating cases.

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