The government, the economists, and the healthcare experts all claim to have done the common man a favor by saving his health and wealth. But facts are contradictory.
India became the world’s third-largest caseload, even while we officially argued that per capita caseload as well as the case fatality rate is low. The overall objective for the Policymakers being on how to balance economic and public health costs and benefits.
The crucial efficacy of the response system adopted will be best tested on factors of sustainability, impact and monitoring results, and ability to escalate prevention strategy and clinical management of severe cases to contain mortality rates.
role and effect mathematical forecasting models.
During the initial stage of the pandemic, in the absence of real-time medical data, it was a tough call to action an unknown quantity. The government scrambled to declare a national lockout. the nation was left completely unaware of the importance of the participatory nature of the preventive strategy. A few days of wide public information and preparation would have avoided the abrupt disruption and the consequence of pain and misery for the vulnerable sections of our society.
The forecasting models were then designed based on sketchy details of transmission, virulence, and undifferentiated demographic profiles. This however projects bleak scenarios which made misinformed public fear the key response factor.
Most initial projections have shown to be wide off the mark in most aspects of the Indian case. An orderly lockdown would have reduced the economic losses by over 50% and also made gradual opening back of the economy faster, easier, and less costly than what is actual today.
Poor data quality
The accuracy of the mathematical models was dependent on fast emerging and highly pulsating data variations. example the migrant movement, under-reporting, and lack of public awareness and reactive rather than planned proactive measures. hence most initial models had insufficient data to make highly reliable projections. The lockdown effect was exaggerated and this led to letting our guard down in terms of many aspects of preparatory and preventive strategies.
the rate of infection during a lockdown period is unconnected with the viral nature of the spread and does not change it. But we were lulled into the complacency of extremely low (rather unrealistic) infection and transmissivity rates. The concept of per capita caseload being low as a metric of success is flawed. the number of active cases distribution and the capacity to manage the expected hospitalization is more important to achieve low mortality.
So without the proper strategy in place, the opening of the lockout caused an unpredictable surge in caseload and will continue in a cascading peak over the next few months, in the natural course of transmissions.
But overall while the data scientists were a great help in understanding the future path of the pandemic, the ignoring highly valuable inputs from the scientific community and extreme reliance on clinical expertise, may have reduced Indian success.
natural factors that benefited but not factored in
India had a lot going in favor. a high youthful profile of its population, greater immunity due to our traditional diet supplemented immunity boosters, and possibly also due to the BCG vaccine.
On the negative side, our public health infra and administration was the biggest differentiator for the lack of success. This fact cannot be denied, as the case of Kerala amply showed how the public participation in conjunction with the effective local administration made the identification, tracing and treatment strategy a great success in the shortest possible time without overwhelming the public health system in the state.
the way forward
The health CARE COSTS are now fairly visible and seem to be manageable in a PPP model. However, this has a drastic effect on the more valuable sections of society. It is a fact that daily charges of up to 50 K per day were charged for patients in private healthcare providers, who had to borrow money and will now be financially stressed beyond immediate relief.
Industrial collapse too has been fairly well understood and though the government has tried to respond, its ability to bring in effective support is questionable with the present finances.
So it is back to the guts and grit of the ordinary Indian to live through another life crisis for also pay the cost. the policymakers and politicians will then claim they enabled the economy to rebound.
Economic indicators show that most of the people have tightened their belts and reduced their purchases on both essential and nonessentials to manage families without salaries and business incomes.
Hope flows eternal, as the sunrise after every nightfall. Humans are destined by fate to continue pursuing our dreams. the coronavirus notwithstanding.