On May 04, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shared that the 'curve is relatively flat' in India. In the five days since then, India has inched closer and closer to the 60,000 mark.
The question then is obvious - is India really flattening the curve?
A quick look at the statistics of Covid-19 in India, in comparison to the rest of the world, hints at a different reality.
On May 04, when the Indian government stated that India has relatively flattened the curve, as per worldometeres, India recorded one of the highest number of cases, and the highest numbers of death (175).
In the past week, the increase in the number of cases has also been far higher than the increase in the number of recoveries.
All these figures point to a single fact, that India is nowhere close to flattening the curve.
Yes, the Indian government's claim that lockdown helped curb the spread of the virus is not false.
But, to say that the lockdown has helped India move to a state of higher recovery, lower cases, and possible elimination--which is essentially what flattening the curve has meant for other countries--is misreporting of information.
Even if we were to consider the positive effects of lockdown, India is still lagging behind on three crucial aspects - total tests being conducted, managing the reopening of the economy, and providing for those worst affected by the pandemic.
If the government's socio-economic mishaps are ignored, India is still not at a stage where it can claim to have flattened the curve. Because currently, India is only testing 1,104 cases per million.
Going by the global trend, it has been noted that when testing was amped up, there was a significant spike in the number of cases reported.
While some reports do suggest that no direct correlation can be developed between the testing rate and fatality rate, it is necessary to keep in mind that the biggest threat with Covid-19 is the unpredictability.
In the current pandemic, with no confirmed cure and no vaccine, more than even social distancing, increased testing and containing positive cases is the way forward.
As per Statista, as of April 12, Maharashtra had the highest numbers of testing, and consequently, the highest number of cases.
In contrast to this Kerala, which already has a robust healthcare system that effectively battled the 2018 Nipah virus, has emerged as a leader in managing the pandemic.
Our fatality rate in the country continues to be around 3.3% and the recovery rate has climbed up to 29.9%, these are very good indicators. Doubling rate for last 3 days has been about 11 days, for last 7 days it has been 9.9 days: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/ZmvyxpHV9a— ANI (@ANI) May 9, 2020
The goal of flattening the curve should not be to delay the emergence of positive cases but to stop them from occurring in the first place.
And as per Deccan Herald's interview with Prof. T Jacob John, one of the country’s leading experts and a retired professor of clinical virology, India could see a peak in June-July.
In addition to this, as the reopening of liquor shops showed, most people are voluntarily not adopting the rules of social distancing.
In a pandemic where even an asymptomatic person can be a carrier of the virus, is flouting social distancing really contributing to flattening the curve?
Of course, the government asked for rules of social distancing to be followed. But did it prepare in advance for a situation where social distancing norms will be broken?
Then again, as the recent past has proved, 'preparing in advance' is an area our government has been woefully ill-equipped in.
New Zealand, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan are some of the countries that have either already flattened the curve or are well on their way to doing so.
Understandably, a straightforward comparison is not ideal, considering the differences in population, healthcare system, and period of lockdown.
But, these countries did set an example of what flattening the curve looks like - lower number of infections and higher recovery cases that allow for a gradual, controlled opening of services.
Till the time India perfects its graphs on these parameters, India is not flattening the curve. It is, at most, burying it under misinformation.