Covid-19 infections in India growing most in states that tested too little

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Updated: Sep 07, 2020 10:09 AM

In the case of India, since the initial levels of testing were low, infection levels spread faster once the levels of testing were raised. As the number of tests rose by 12.3 times – from 2.9 per thousand on June 1 to 35.4 on September 5 – infections rose 21.1 times.

In the case of India, since the initial levels of testing were low, infection levels spread faster once the levels of testing were raised. (Reuters file image)

The story of low testing levels leading to higher infection levels over time becomes even more evident when you look at individual states or cities, and even countries. On June 1, the US conducted 57 tests per thousand people compared with India’s 2.9. Between June 1 and September 5, while the number of tests in the US rose 4.8 times, the number of infections rose by a smaller 3.5 times. In other words, a high level of initial testing results in a lower rise in infections later.

In the case of India, since the initial levels of testing were low, infection levels spread faster once the levels of testing were raised. As the number of tests rose by 12.3 times – from 2.9 per thousand on June 1 to 35.4 on September 5 – infections rose 21.1 times.

The same picture gets repeated across the country. In the case of Delhi and Mumbai, where initial levels of testing were 4-5 times the all-India average, the spread of the infection wasn’t as high as in other parts of the country. In Delhi, the number of tests rose 8.2 times between June 1 and September 5, while the number of infections rose 9.5 times. In the case of Mumbai, which was doing 40% more tests than Delhi on June 1, while the number of tests rose four times, the number of infections also rose by around the same number.

A totally different picture emerges, however, in the case of states that, to begin with, tested much less than Delhi. Take Kerala, where testing levels – in per capita terms – were around a fifth those of Delhi on June 1. In Kerala, the number of tests rose around 23.6 times by September 5 while the number of infections rose 66.8 times.

For Tamil Nadu, where testing levels were around half those in Delhi, infections rose 20.5 times even though the number of tests rose just 10.6 times. And in Odisha, a 13-times rise in testing led to a 58-times rise in infections.

In Karnataka, where initial tests were around 40% those in Delhi, an 11.2-fold rise in the number of tests resulted in infections rising 120.8 times. West Bengal’s testing levels were around a sixth those of Delhi on June 1 and so when, between June 1 and September 5, West Bengal’s tests rose 10.4 times, its infection levels rose 32.3 times.

In the case of Andhra Pradesh, its testing levels were around 60% those of Delhi on June 1. While the number of tests rose 10.8 times by September 5, the number of infections rose 132.5 times.

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