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India Covid deaths weekly projection – 06 Sep update

WHILE THE TOTAL DEATH COUNT IS NOW AT 70K, THIRTY THOUSAND INDIANS DIED OF COVID IN JUST PAST ONE MONTH


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 (05 Sep) stands at ~70k (actual figure could be as high as twice this value, for various reasons documented here).

For the first time, avg daily deaths in a week crossed 1,000. That’s more than 5 full capacity A320s crashing and killing everyone on board everyday – for one full week.

Also notice above how just a month ago (01 Aug) deaths were less than 40k. So basically in just one month, 30k more died.

One could try forecasting the future deaths by simply using the existing week-on-week growth in ‘total deaths in a week’.

Yes there are many ups and downs in the weekly growth of Covid deaths but if one has to extrapolate, a 5% to 15% growth range seems to be a good guess?

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

We will cross 1 lakh Covid deaths either by this month end or latest by first week of October.

Alright, let’s now try a slightly more nuanced (albeit indirect) approach to project cumulative deaths. This requires looking first at cases.

For many weeks, I had maintained that deaths matter and cases don’t (because if you don’t die, you end up recovering). But someone pointed me this week to the growing evidence of long term effect on those who got infected but didn’t die.

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

ScienceMag.Org

Till last month, total positive cases detected was about 2 million and now it’s over 4 million. So basically…

we detected as many new cases in just one month (2 million), as we had ever since the Pandemic hit India.

Let’s look at the week-on-week growth rate of ‘total cases in a week’.

5.6 lakh total positive cases were detected this week, which is 14.5% higher than the total cases detected the week before (4.9 lakh).

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

7,011 Covid deaths were recorded this week that is basically 1.3% of half of total cases from this week + half of total cases from last week.

In other words, Y for this week is 1.3%. For the future, let’s assume a range from 1% to 1.3%? 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=1.3% (worse: expecting faster growth in cases)

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

The indirect method more or less gives a similar estimate as the direct death projection except in one scenario (optimistic), we may cross 1 lakh deaths only by 10th October.

India will cross 1 lakh total deaths by early October.

Now, 1 lakh total deaths for India is basically equivalent to 72 deaths per million of the total population (currently we are just over 50 per million Covid deaths).

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 up to 5 lakh people (or 362 deaths per million)!

That’s it for this post. I’ll get back with updated projections next Sunday (13 Sep). Stay safe.

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