Reason for COVID-19 cases downturn in India is unclear, says GlobalData

India has reported a gradual decline of the COVID-19 infections after reporting a high number of daily new cases in September and October 2020. The seasonal effect of the colder weather combined with the lifting of lockdown measures was supposed to trigger a surge in the cases, but they have gradually declined. Hence, the reason for this unexpected down surge has confounded the experts, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

In India, the current rate of new cases is 10 per one million population, in marked contrast to the US, where the rate is 370 new cases per one million population.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “This is astounding as until recently, experts were predicting that India would overtake the US as the most heavily affected country in the world. This decline seems to be real as the testing positivity rate has also declined to around 2%, and hospitalizations and mortality are also lower than in the first wave. This lends support to the argument that cases are indeed declining in India.”

Non-pharmacological intervention (NPI) could provide some of the explanation for the decline of the cases. Mask mandates and social distancing could have a positive effect on reduction of the number of daily cases. However, India is a densely populated country, making social distancing extremely difficult to follow.

Bhandari continues: “Importantly, India has a relatively younger population compared to European countries, which suggests that the outcome will be more favorable for positive cases in Indians. Indians may also have innate immunity from previous exposure to related infections in their lives that could boost their immune response to the novel coronavirus.”

There is also speculation that the hot and humid climate of India could be controlling the spread of the virus, though other countries with similar environmental factors such as Brazil and Mexico did not seem to benefit from the weather.

Bhandari concludes: “India should not be complacent as new viral mutations in South Africa, Brazil and the UK are causing an alarm around the world. These mutations allow the virus to be more contagious and may cause vaccines to be less effective. India should remain vigilant and continue to implement proactive public health measures to prevent the spread of these new variants.”

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