India’s Covid cases near 1 cr: A look at its trajectory

India’s total Covid-19 cases approach 1-crore mark: A look at its trajectory

A look at Covid-19's trajectory in India as the country nears a total of 1 crore cases

Health workers, wearing protective gear, collect swab samples for Covid-19 testing in New Delhi. Credit: PTI

Ten months into the Covid-19 pandemic, India’s tally of total cases is nearing the 1 crore-mark, trailing behind the US, the only country to have crossed that threshold, amidst hope that vaccinations may be around the corner.

With 99,51,072 cases, India has the highest overall caseload second only to the United States, whose count has crossed 1.7 crore. According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the death toll crossed to 1,44,000 on Wednesday, with active cases at 3,22,366. Maharashtra is leading with the most number of infections, state-wise.

The recovery rate in India is at a strong 95.3 per cent, with total recovered cases in India reaching 95 lakh. 

This comes as economies around the world including Germany and the United Kingdom are battling a fresh wave of infections and going into lockdown to control the spiking numbers.

Meanwhile, the US saw two records of more than 3,700 deaths and more than 2,50,000 new cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours on Thursday. Over the last two weeks, the number of new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours has climbed above 2,00,000 for 11 out of 14 days.

Covid-19 trajectory in India

The increase in the number of cases in India was late but rapid. The country first crossed the 20-lakh mark only on August 7. It crossed 30 lakhs within the following two weeks on August 23. The tally crossed the 40-lakh mark on September 5, the 50-lakh mark on September 16 and the 60-lakh mark on September 28.

The caseload crossed 80-lakh mark on October 29 and 90 lakh on November 20. But October was the first month that the number of fresh infections and fatalities saw a fall. The month saw 18.3 lakh new cases, down from 26.2 lakh cases registered in September. The caseload in October was even lower than that in August. The death toll from September to October also fell by 30 per cent.

The numbers in December have also been steadily falling. It was reported earlier this week that Tuesday was the eighth consecutive day that the active caseload remained below four lakh.

Why the falling numbers?

India started showing a decline in the number of cases when the US and Europe started seeing heightened risk from Covid-19. Without giving a specific reason as to why, experts said it is possible that the virus has affected enough of the population in its urban cities to develop immunity, although whether the herd immunity stage had been reached in India was a highly contested viewpoint.

Lower infections and fatalities did not mean it was time to become cavalier. It was reported in November that the reason that lower infections are surfacing is that many states which had been the hotspot of the virus, had rolled back on testing in October and November.

It was also feared that with the festive season and winters approaching, India would likely see a strong second wave of the virus, as social distancing rules became blurred. But the past month has brought good news for the country. It was reported earlier today that the active caseload remained below 4 lakh for the eleventh consecutive day on Wednesday.

Vaccine status

The United Kingdom became the first to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine candidate and started administering the vaccines earlier this week. Canada and the US FDA also approved the vaccine for emergency use and started immunisation of healthcare workers.

The Indian drug regulators are still studying proposals of pharma company Bharat BioTech’s vaccine and the Serum Institute of India vaccine before giving their go-ahead.