India Covid deaths weekly projection – 04 Oct update


My big question every week (since May) has been, when will India cross 1 lakh total reported Covid deaths? It happened this week.

The actual Covid death toll could be as high as twice the ‘reported’ figures, for various reasons documented here.

On a global level, if you just look at total number of reported Covid deaths, you will find that India is at no. 3. But the moment you adjust for population (which makes more sense), you realize that India is in a much better position (the pink line; US is dark blue, Brazil green, UK light blue and Canada red).

Source – FT – Plot generated and screenshot taken on 04 Oct 2020

1 lakh total deaths for India translates to 73 deaths per million (Brazil is 900% higher than India’s per million deaths).

It will take many months for India to reach the kind of deaths per million figures that Brazil or US have already seen (if it ever does). After looking at data from the present and previous weeks, it doesn’t look like things will ever get that bad in India.

In any case, there are many countries doing better then India and there are many others that are doing worse (once you adjust for population and compare).

One could try forecasting the future Covid deaths in India by simply using the existing week-on-week growth in deaths.

Chart created by Amrit Vatsa on 04 Oct 2020 from publicly available data

For two consecutive weeks, total weekly deaths in India has continued to decline. This never happened before! And this is great news!

For future growth / decline estimate, -2% (baseline), -4% (better case) and +2% (worse case) assumption sounds good?

This is how the forecast looks like, for the following three scenarios.

Chart created by Amrit Vatsa on 04 Oct 2020 from publicly available data

It is quite possible now that India’s total death toll may not cross 2 lakh (145 deaths per million) this year. Both US and Brazil are already over 600 per million dead.

If what I am saying happens, chances are we will flat out below 200 deaths per million (similar to Canada that peaked after crossing 200 – if you scroll up and check the FT chart I put up).

Fingers crossed.

Let’s now try a slightly more nuanced (albeit indirect) approach to project future deaths that requires looking first at cases. Cases are important because even when you don’t die, just being infected seems to have its own issues.

From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists


At a global level, when adjusted for population – total reported cases for India (pink in the below chart) are low when compared to the worst performers (US – dark blue, Brazil – green) but already higher than Canada (red) and could cross UK (light blue) soon.

Source – FT – Plot generated and screenshot taken on 04 Oct 2020

Anyway so like deaths, for cases too, if we look at the week-on-week growth, we can have some idea of how it’s probably going to grow / decline in the next few weeks.

~5.7 lakh total positive cases were detected this week, which is 4% lower than the total cases detected the week before (~6 lakh).

I am aware of the issues with low testing but I am not sure that’s the only explanation for decline in weekly cases.

I think India is now approaching the peaking point.

Let’s call this w-o-w growth in cases – ‘X’. X was -8% last week and +2% the week before (see the above chart). X=-4% this week. For my projection, I think I will assume a range of -2 to +2% for X in the coming weeks.

Now in general, people who die of Covid in a given week, are either tested positive the same week, or the week before (just a basic assumption). Do we have some idea of what %age of such cases die? We do actually.

7,463 Covid deaths were recorded this week, which is basically 1.3% of half of total cases from this week + half of total cases from last week.

Let’s call this %age Y; Y= 1.3%.

For the future, let’s assume a range of 1.2% to 1.4%?

So we can forecast now – I am going with the following 3 scenarios:

  • X=0%, Y=1.3% (baseline)
  • X=-2%, Y=1.2% (optimistic: growth in cases declines + lesser %ge of deaths)
  • X=+2%, Y=1.4% (worse: cases grow + higher death %age )

With the above assumptions, below chart shows the future cumulative death count.

We will see around 50,000 more deaths by November, but once India crosses 2 lakh, the toll would not increase much beyond that.

Before I end, below is a new Covid insight that you all should be aware of!

That’s it for this post. I’ll get back with updated projections next Sunday (11 Oct). Stay safe.

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