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Daily Covid deaths are rising even as cases decline. Here’s why

For India, the average time lapse between a Covid case being detected and death is roughly around 15 days.

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New Delhi: The number of new Covid-19 infections being recorded across India has been declining for nearly 13 days, yet daily deaths continue to rise.

How long a person is under treatment for Covid-19, before recovery or death, is a key marker of how soon or late the healthcare system detects a new case.

In the case of India, there has been a roughly 15-day lag between new cases being detected and deaths being reported — which is on a par with what has been witnessed internationally.

ThePrint explains the reason behind the lapse between the peak daily cases and daily deaths.

On 27 March 2020, India reported 153 new cases of Covid — the first time that the country had crossed the 100-mark. Thirteen days later — on 9 April — the number of deaths from Covid was 46, the highest reported daily deaths at the time.

There is a similar correlation if we compare both these numbers with the previous day.

On 26 March, India reported 76 new cases of Covid, and 13 days later — on April 8 — there were 20 deaths.

In both examples, the fatality rate was nearly 30 per cent of the detected cases — which is consistent with the case fatality rates early in the pandemic, when not enough was known about the disease and its pathology.

Overtime, the case fatality reduced — but a fortnight lag between cases and deaths was maintained.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

However, as India reached the first peak of the pandemic, the gap had narrowed.

On 11 September 2020, India reported 97,655 new cases of Covid-19 — the highest at the time. The peak daily deaths during the first wave of the pandemic, however, came just four days later on September 15, 2020 — when India reported 1,281 deaths in a single day.

This shows that there was a significant lapse in the detection system. Cases were being detected very late during this time. A look at the daily test positivity data from the time shows that positivity crossed over 12 per cent around 7 September. A positivity of over 10 per cent indicates that cases are being missed.

Similar trend can be seen across states.


Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Maharashtra’s second Covid wave peaked on 18 April this year, with 68,631 new cases reported in a single day. The peak number of deaths came 11 days later, on April 28, when 1,035 people reportedly died.

This represents a fatality of 1.5 per cent, which is consistent with the overall Case Fatality Rate of the state at present.


Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Kerala’s latest Covid wave has just begun to show signs of peaking, which means that it’s still too early for daily deaths to peak in the state.

The highest number of single day cases that Kerala reported before its current wave was on 10 October 2020, when 11,755 new cases were reported. The surge in its death numbers came 19 days later, with 28 deaths reported. This is consistent with the fatality rate of just about 0.3 being reported from the state at the time.

Kerala has been an exception in terms of its fatalities, with the state reporting the lowest CFR throughout the pandemic.


Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

During the most recent Covid wave in the national capital, the peak number of cases were reported on 22 April, with 26,169 new cases. The peak number of deaths (448) came 11 days later, after which the graph of daily deaths started declining.

Also read: Sputnik V could become part of India’s national vaccination programme after July


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