Maharashtra worst performer, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat best
According to the Survey, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar have restricted the case spread the best; Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have saved the most lives; Maharashtra has underperformed the most in restricting the spread of cases and in saving lives.
The model shows that Maharashtra has performed the worst in number of cases and deaths. In terms of estimated cases, Survey compares Maharashtra with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, these three States have the most population with Bihar and Maharashtra having almost identical population. But Maharashtra has a lower population density than both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Yet, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have much lower cases than what is naturally expected while Maharashtra had much higher cases.
In fact, highly populous, densely populated states like Uttar Pradesh (with a density of 690 persons per square km) and Bihar (with a density of 881 persons per square km) – as against the national average of population density of 382 persons per square km – have managed the pandemic well. This ultimately held India in good stead.
In terms of deaths, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have managed it effectively.
India was better at tackling Covid than other countries
After estimating the natural caseload and fatalities, the actual cases and deaths are compared with these estimates. The analysis shows that India has been able to effectively manage both the spread of Covid-19 and the fatalities. India has 37.1 lakh less cases than what was estimated by the model while the actual cases in US are more than the estimated cases by 62.5 lakh cases.
The model used for estimating the number of deaths across countries also shows that India has been successful in controlling deaths and saving lives.
Early and stringent lockdown helped in controlling pandemic
The analysis, the Survey said, showed that early and more stringent lockdowns have been effective in controlling the spread of the pandemic – both across countries and across states in India.
The Survey further stated that India benefited from successfully pushing the peak of the pandemic curve to September 2020 through the lockdown. After this peak, India has been unique in experiencing declining daily cases despite increasing mobility.
The Survey observed that economic activity in states with higher initial stringency has rebounded faster during the year.
Timing and implementation of lockdown
In its report, the Survey said that much of India’s Covid-19 strategy was derived from the research done during the 1918 Spanish Flu crisis.
Learning from the Spanish Flu experience also showed that timing matters – early and extensive lockdowns led to greater delays in reaching peak mortality and overall mortality. Swift lockdowns also had no adverse effect on local economic outcomes, the Survey noted.
On the contrary, cities that intervened earlier and more aggressively experience a relative increase in real economic activity after the pandemic, the Survey said.
The Survey noted that the stringent lockdown has had a direct impact on the country’s V-shape economic recovery and the number of Covid-related deaths and cases.
How early lockdown worked in favour of India
India imposed the most stringent lockdown (equal to 100 as per the index) for around a period of forty days from late March to early May – this was when it had total cases of only around 500-600 cases. As a comparison, stringency in US was around 72 only during that period when it already had 1 lakh cases. As on date, India has a declining trend in daily new cases which has dropped below 20,000 and lowest CFR despite having second largest number of total cases. US is still seeing around 2 lakh daily new cases.
India increases mobility as countries forced to reimpose lockdown
Globally, many European countries and US have been facing deadly second and third waves around this time with easing of lockdowns and increasing mobility. Most countries had to re-impose intermittent lockdowns while India has been increasingly unlocking. These trends reinforce that India has been effective in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
Testing an effective strategy to counter Covid
The survey elaborated how higher testing was recognised as an effective strategy to limit the spread of infection. At the onset of the pandemic in January 2020, India did less than 100 Covid-19 tests per day at only one lab. However, within a year, 10 lakh tests were being conducted per day at 2,305 laboratories. The country reached cumulative testing of more than 17 crore in January, 2021.