Pune | Updated: March 25, 2021 10:44:00 am
While the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic has set off alarm bells, a reassuring sign is that the severity of the disease appears to be significantly less than before, as is evident from the declining death rate.
India’s overall case fatality ratio (CFR), or the number of deaths as a proportion of confirmed infections, is around 1.4 per cent. That means about 14 people out of every 1,000 confirmed infections have died so far. But among those who were infected from January onward, this ratio is only about 0.87 per cent.
In the first two months of this year, India recorded 8,06,453 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections. Deaths usually occur two to three weeks after the infection. In the two months between January 11 and March 11, a total 6,979 deaths have been reported across the country.
This trend is more prominent in Maharashtra, which accounts for nearly a third of all coronavirus-related deaths in the country, and 20 per cent of all infections. Maharashtra is also the epicentre of the ongoing second wave.
The overall CFR in Maharashtra is about 2.38 per cent, but among those who got infected this year, this figure is almost half that, about 1.2 per cent. For the month of February, when the second wave began, the CFR is even lower — just about 1 per cent.
“There is clear evidence that the newer infections are producing much milder symptoms. That is what distinguishes this second wave of infections from the first,” Dr Pradeep Awate, Maharashtra’s Covid-19 surveillance officer, said at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express.
Dr Awate said CFR on weekly data shows an even more pronounced decline for recent weeks. He said Maharashtra, which is currently reporting 13,000-14,000 cases daily, could eventually touch a daily count of 20,000 cases, similar to the situation at the peak of the first wave.
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But the daily count of deaths is likely to remain significantly lower. The last time Maharashtra was reporting case numbers similar to now, at the end of August and again at the end of September, it was counting between 200 and 300 deaths every day. As of now, the state is reporting between 50 and 60 deaths a day.
Another indicator, the number of critically ill patients in hospitals, adds to the evidence that newer cases are mostly mild in nature.
“Numbers are rising quickly, but incoming patients mostly have very mild symptoms,” Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of Pune’s Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, said. He said in September and October, most of the oxygenated beds and ICUs in the hospital were occupied, but now, less than half of the capacity was being utilised.
(With inputs from Anuradha Mascarenhas)
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