Every week (since May this year), I look at the existing trend of a) reported Covid deaths and b) the positive cases for India. And then I run few scenarios to forecast when India will cross 1 lakh total reported Covid deaths. Total death toll as of yesterday stands at 36k+ (actual figure could easily be two times this value, for various reasons documented here). On an average 736 people reportedly died per day this week (compared to 726 last week).
One could try forecasting the future cumulative deaths by using the existing growth rate of deaths. There’s just one problem.
There is no existing growth rate trend for death figures (see the red line below – it’s all over the place).
This week, total deaths figure grew by just a little over 1%, while last week it had grown by over 20%!
So how do we project the future deaths now?
Notice the blue line in the same chart above? Even when it fluctuates, it still has some pattern. This blue line is the trend for growth rate in positive cases (let’s call it X).
3.6 lakh total positive cases were detected this week, which is 20% higher than the total cases detected the week before (almost 3 lakh). In other words, X for this week (26Jul-01 Aug) is 20%
Based on the pattern so far, I expect the total cases in the coming weeks to grow by anywhere between 20% to 30% (X). That’s my assumption #1.
Now in general, people who die of Covid in a given week, are either tested positive the same week, or the week before. Do we have some idea of what %age (Y) of such cases die? We do actually.
As you see above, death %age (Y) has been falling since its peak of 3.4% in the 07-13 June week. 5100+ people died this week (26 Jul-01 Aug) which is 1.6% of half of total cases from this week + half of total cases from last week. In other words, Y for this week is 1.6%.
Let’s assume that for the coming weeks, death %age (Y) could get as low as 1% and if something random happens, could say go up to a max of 2%. That’s my assumption #2.
Let’s forecast now…
Let me consider 3 scenarios:
- X=20%, Y=1.5% (baseline)
- X=20%, Y=1% (optimistic: expecting even lesser %ge of deaths)
- X=30%, Y-2% (worse: expecting faster growth in cases AND even higher percentage of deaths)
With the above assumptions, below is how the future total death count looks like:
As you can see above, we will cross 1 lakh deaths sometime in September, whichever scenario we consider.
Now, 1 lakh total deaths for India is basically equivalent to 72 deaths per million of the total population (in comparison, the present death toll of 36k+ is equivalent to 25 deaths per million).
To what extent would the death toll figures keep going up?
If we look at other countries, death toll for many started to flatten out only after anywhere between 400 to 600 per million of their population died!! Scary, I know!
If we assume that for India, the death toll flattens out even at say 200 deaths per million, that would be equivalent to ~3 lakh total deaths!
It’s difficult to imagine why India would see any less deaths than that. The only populous countries across the globe where death toll flattened at much lower levels (like say Japan and China) happened when they somehow didn’t let the total deaths cross even 5k (Japan for example didn’t even let it cross 1k). We clearly couldn’t control things to that extent in India (most countries haven’t). So now let’s just be hopeful that the total death cap estimate that I am guessing is on the conservative end – otherwise, we could lose even upto 5 lakh people (or 362 deaths per million)!
That’s it for this post. I’ll get back with updated projections next Sunday (09 Aug). Stay safe.