Delhi is like France and India, the US.
Intriguing as it may be to explore the contours of this claim across dimensions, this writer’s import is exclusively about the trajectory of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in these regions.
Delhi’s third wave, for instance, is already behind it if the numbers are any indication — and this time (unlike the first and second waves in the Capital), there has been and continues to be adequate testing of the right kind for the numbers to stand scrutiny. The Union territory’s administration would appear to be managing this wave reasonably well — not merely managing the numbers like some regions have been wont to do.
The sharp third wave in Delhi merits comparison with the equally sharp second wave in France. The European nation has managed this wave well, although, unlike Delhi, it was forced to re-impose a lockdown to get the soaring numbers under control. Indeed, for some time it appeared as if daily cases in France would exceed those in India, which would have been something given the populations of the two nations. France’s is 67 million, around thrice Delhi’s and 5% of India’s. India’s population is around 1.3 billion.
But what’s with India’s trajectory?
On Saturday, the country registered 41,799 cases, according to the HT dashboard. It conducted almost 1.24 million tests. To date, India has conducted almost 150 million tests. That’s around 115,000 tests per million of population.
According to the NYT database, India’s seven-day average of cases was 42,445 on Saturday. It was 45,622 on November 1. The average dipped a bit — through the Diwali weekend, especially — but has since stabilised. Given that testing has not dropped off significantly in this period (although there are still far more rapid antigen tests being used than should be), this means that the second wave in India is beginning with a long plateau. Sure, another way of looking at it would be that the country is enjoying (although that is the wrong word in the context of the pandemic which has killed almost 140,000 people here) a longish interregnum between the first wave and the second. Thus, while India is back to trending red (which means its 7-day average is off recent lows and inching up), in the database maintained by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the trajectory of the curve is still relatively flat.
Dispatch 212 on November 26 wrote of how the week that starts today, Monday, November 30 will show whether or not the festivities of two weeks ago have had an impact on the number of Covid-19 infections in India, but if that doesn’t happen, the trajectory of the pandemic in the country will be following that in the US. This will hold true even if the number of cases rises (but not by much) on account of the celebrations. From around the third week of August to the first week of October, the US enjoyed a similar relative respite, recording cases in the low 40,000s between the end of the second wave and the beginning of the third in that country. The third wave in the US gathered momentum in the second half of October and then really accelerated through much of November. The seven-day average of cases peaked at around 176,000 on November 25, according to the NYT database, and was at around 163,000 on November 28, but this may well be explained by lower testing and delays in reporting around the Thanksgiving weekend.
How long will India continue to see a lull (if it can be called that)? That’s a function of how assiduously people are adhering to mask discipline and social distancing and how diligent local administrations are about testing and tracing.