COVID-19: Key Data Points You Should Look Out For

Here's how you can navigate COVID-19 numbers and know which ones to use to know if we are battling the pandemic well.

As continue the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, we are confronted with a lot of information about our fight against the pandemic. India has 77,103 confirmed active cases and 4021 deaths as of 25 May.

But what do these numbers mean for us? Speaking to BOOM, Prof K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) filtered key COVID-19 data points. Reddy said, "There are a number of figures being published, and I admit this is confusing. But if you look at places in Europe like Italy and Spain, the number they are focusing on to know whether lockdown should be relaxed is the number of deaths per day. When they say the number of deaths per day is going down, and now we can relax the lockdown, it's clear that the objective is bringing down the number of deaths in the population."

Another data point about COVID-19 doing the rounds is Case Fatality Rate (CFR) or deaths per cases. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India's CFR is 2.87% as of May 26; which was less than half of the world average 6.4%. He says about CFR, "The case fatality rate depends upon the number of cases who have been diagnosed and labelled as cases. Now that depends upon the testing rate. The more tests that you perform, your denominator will keep expanding and quite often with lower number of very sick patients. Because the more people you test, the more mild cases you are likely to capture. Even otherwise, the more tests you do your denominator increases and only a fraction of them will end up with deaths that is in the numerator. So, if we do widespread testing we will have a lower case fatality rate."

Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) released a report on 7 May in India which showed India's cumulative deaths per million to be 1.29, lower than countries like US (196.97), China (3.23), France (394.91), UK (443.04), Sweden (291.21), Italy (490.85), Spain (553.06), Germany (84.97). With a lot of data, here's what the layperson should keep in mind while looking at figures.

As for the deaths per million statistics, he says, "Deaths per million for the whole population gives you a combined measure of both your containment success as well as your case management success. And if you are seeing that number rising very slowly and your deaths per day or deaths per week, whichever way you want to calculate, coming down then that means you are able to get good control of the epidemic."

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