India Covid deaths weekly projection – 30 Aug update


My big question every week (since May) is, when will India cross 1 lakh total reported Covid deaths? Total cumulative Covid death toll as of yesterday stands at 62k+ (actual figure could be as high as twice this value, for various reasons documented here).

On an average 965 people reportedly died per day this week. This figure was the same in the previous week too – still as much as five fully loaded A320 airplanes crashing and killing every passenger every day.

One could try forecasting the future deaths by simply using the existing growth rate trend for weekly Covid deaths.

Yes there are many ups and down but if one has to extrapolate, a 5% to 15% week-on-week growth in total weekly deaths seems to be a good guess.

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

We are at 62k+ deaths (as of yesterday – 29 AUG). We will cross 1 lakh by September end.

Alright, let’s now try a slightly more nuanced (albeit indirect) approach to project cumulative deaths. Here we will first look at the week-on-week growth rate of total weekly cases (instead of weekly deaths).

4.9 lakh total positive cases were detected this week, which is ~9% higher than the total cases detected the week before (4.5 lakh).

And yes, we also set a new milestone this week in terms of largest single day recorded case anywhere in the world (but then it doesn’t mean much because what matters is [cases / population] – not the total cases – it will obviously be more for country with such a large population).

For my projection, I will assume a range of 7 to 15% (X) for week-on-week growth of total weekly positive cases. 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.

For the first time, the total deaths in a week is less than the total deaths in the previous week (albeit marginally as of now). 6,756 Covid deaths were recorded this week which is slightly less than 6,758 recorded last week.

Also, 6,756 is basically 1.4% of half of total cases from this week + half of total cases from last week.

In other words, Y for this week is 1.4%. For the future, let’s assume a range from 1% to 1.4%? That’s my assumption #2.

Let’s forecast now…

Let me consider 3 scenarios:

  • X=10%, Y=1.2% (baseline)
  • X=7%, Y=1% (optimistic: slower growth in cases + lesser %ge of deaths)
  • X=15%, Y=1.4% (worse: expecting faster growth in cases)

With the above assumptions, below chart represents the future cumulative death count:

The indirect method tells us, the growth could be slower (at least in one scenario) – and it might be first week of October by when we reach 1 lakh total deaths.

India will cross 1 lakh total deaths by Sep-end to Oct 1st week.

Now, 1 lakh total deaths for India is basically equivalent to 72 deaths per million of the total population (currently we are a little over 45).

To what extent would the death toll figures keep going up – before it flattens / peaks?

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!

Y axis = no. of days (all the countries are arranged in a way that starting point of 10 deaths per million is common to all)

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 (06 Sep). Stay safe.

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