As of February 18th, 2021, India has the second-most total Covid-19 cases in the world. In fact, in September, India reported nearly 100,000 new Covid-19 cases a day; however, in the whole month of January, India totaled only 100,000 new Covid-19 cases. The nation is somehow nullifying the effects of the pandemic, but what is it doing that the rest of the world is not?
Here are some important factors that could help solve the mystery of India’s plummeting Covid-19 cases:
Federal Mask Mandates
Unlike other countries, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, quickly mandated the use of masks almost everywhere in November. In most cities, especially more populous ones such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, police hand out fines of 200 rupees, which is around $2.75, to violators. This mask mandate, along with several others, even applies outdoors: to joggers on the beach, street food vendors, and casual shoppers. Fines alone do not contribute to the decreasing Covid-19 cases in India: when police officers fine a person for not wearing a mask, they also give them a mask to wear, a critical component to India’s plummeting Covid-19 cases. “The police, the monitoring, enforcement — all that was ramped up,” explains Fernandes, a Mumbai native.
Heat: Along with many laws to prevent people from getting Covid-19, India has one of the harshest heat and humidity in the world, which could solve the mystery of India’s plummeting Covid-19 cases. Firstly, multiple studies, including the journal of PLOS One, show that warm climates combined with high humidity levels may hinder the spread of Covid-19. Located near the equator, India reaches over 77 degrees Fahrenheit with almost 79% humidity in January, a month when the rest of the world is dealing with low temperatures. Therefore, this heat and humidity could be the reason for India’s outstanding Covid-19 response.
Ongoing Diseases: Diseases, such as malaria, typhoid, and hepatitis, run rampant in India, and millions of Indians lack sanitary drinking water, which could mean that Indians have stronger immune systems than most people. In fact, one study by Parveen Kumara and Bal Chanderb from the Prasad Government Medical College found that there are fewer Covid-19 cases in countries where the inhabitants are exposed to more bacteria than most other countries.
Pollution: Although these factors show why India’s environment is assisting the decreasing Covid-19 cases, it is also important to consider what could possibly be worsening it. India is not only known for its severe climate, but also for its ongoing pollution problem. In 2019, India was ranked as the 5th most polluted country. Researchers claim that severe air pollution worsens Covid-19 transmission rates because pollution harms the immune system and allows for virus particles to stay airborne longer.
Although there are many explanations for the decreasing Covid-19 cases in India, it is important to recognize the possibility of corruption. Medical supplies in health systems have always been vulnerable areas for corruption in India. For example, in some hospitals, Indians can simply bribe health officials to do what they want for them. This could range from denying Covid-19 positivity, receiving early vaccines without having pre-existing conditions, and bribing police officers to disregard the several Covid-19 laws placed in India. Additionally, the Covid-19 data given to the public could be incorrect for many reasons. Firstly, corruption could allow citizens to pay off officials to negate that they have Covid-19, which could greatly skew data. Secondly, 60% of all Covid-19 tests are from PCR tests, which are “perfect” tests, and 40% RAT tests, which faster but less reliable tests. The reported rate of false negatives is around 20% for PCR tests but up to 50% for RAT tests, so there could still be millions of Indians who tested negative but still have the virus.
Truthfully, scientists are still trying to solve the mystery of the rapidly decreasing Covid-19 cases in India, but if the answer to the problem is mask mandates, more social distancing, or any other possible tactic, India might one of the first counties to symbolize humankind’s first counterattack against the dreadful coronavirus.
- India has placed hundreds of mask mandates around the country forcing people to wear masks almost everywhere, which could be the answer to stopping the Covid-19 once and for all.
- India’s environment, such as its heat, pollution, and ongoing diseases, could be strengthening Indians’ immune systems to fight back against the coronavirus.
- However, it is important to factor in the possibility of corruption and botched data that could be giving the rest of the world a false impression of India’s plummeting Covid-19 cases.