‘Entire families’ wiped out by Covid’s carnage in rural India, screams the headline.
The story went around the world via various mastheads but I tracked down the original to The Times of India.
Experiencing doubt, I decided to look into it.
In Basi . . . about three-quarters of the village’s 5,400 people are sick and more than 30 have died in the past three weeks.
Three-quarters? As about twenty percent of those infected with Covid never show symptoms, that means almost the whole village must be infected. I haven’t heard of that happening in any other place in the world (fact check me if I’m wrong).
Or perhaps they mean that 75% of people being tested are found to be positive. If they were only testing those presenting with symptoms that would make sense.
Thirty dead? Even if 100% of the village is infected, itself extremely unlikely, that gives us an infection fatality rate of 0.56%.
The normal Covid IFR of developed countries is around 0.2% while for developed countries it is about 1% due to average age differences (longer article on this is going up on June 21 so hold your horses for that).
As India’s mean age is 29, that puts them clearly in the ‘developing’ category. Why does this village have an IFR more than double the expected rate?
The article claims that most deaths are due to the lack of oxygen. However, that 0.2% average is for similarly poor countries that are also likely to lack basic medical supplies and expertise.
I have no doubt that Indian authorities have failed to adequately prepare for Covid. I’ve been there. However, we should note that (a) India’s public health system is not fantastic at the best of times and (b) this alone cannot explain oddly poor outcomes.
It’s a scenario playing out all over India . . . officials outlined the scale of the carnage – from entire families wiped out to bloated bodies floating down the Ganges river to farmland left untended due to a lack of workers.
Entire families? The IFR for those in their 80s is about 5% for women and 10% for men. No doubt in such an enormous country you could find sad examples of multiple members of the same family perishing from the virus, but given the odds this is clearly hyperbole. There’s no mathematical way that whole families are being wiped out across rural India. The chances of losing even a set of infected octogenarian grandparents, rare enough to have in India, is about 0.5% (please check my maths).
Bloated bodies floating down the Ganges? In India, that’s a Thursday. When I lived in Calcutta there were regularly dead bodies in the streets. There’s a caste whose job it is to collect them.
Farmland unattended? With an average age of 29, I can’t see how the general population would be so ill that the labour force is being affected to that extent. Such a thing didn’t happen in the West where older populations were hit much harder.
‘We had complete support for Modi and Yogi, but now whatever happens we will vote the BJP out,’ Sahab Sinh, 72, said in the centre of Basi . . .
When I lived in India, I got into the local newspapers and started to comprehend all the alien acronyms. If I recall correctly, the Times leans towards the Congress Party and hates Prime Minister Modi and his ruling BJP. This article is much the same as a typical CNN analysis of Trump’s handling of the virus.
Covid 19 is adding to Modi’s troubles along with a severe economic downturn, rising unemployment and farmer protests against a law perceived to favour big business, according to Nikita Sud, an associate professor in international development at the University of Oxford and author of a book on Hindu nationalism.
What a paragraph. Things to note: The Times of India went to an Oxford professor to find out what was going on in their own country. His response was, ‘Modi Bad’. He’s a typical, overproduced elite from a country that really needs engineers, nurses and repairmen. Many poor farmers, who the author has never met, support the farm reforms. And of course he authored a book on Hindu nationalism. No leftie Indian professor has not.
He’s a twit with absolutely no connection to ordinary Indians – a once Third World concept that Westerners are now very familiar with.
This is basically the same as a Harvard Professor of Bullshit Studies proclaiming that Trump’s mishandling of Covid is yet more proof of white supremacy.
If the assertions in the article are indeed overblown, a fellow might wonder: what’s being left out?
Here’s one thing:
What a funny thing not to mention – infection rates peaked on May 8th and have been rapidly falling ever since. Finally, some good news!
My inclination is to think that this is due to natural factors rather than human intervention as I haven’t seen a lot of evidence that we can really control the virus much except on islands and other sealable countries.
However, for the record, what has that dastardly BJP been doing to help?
They’ve been getting a wriggle on with vaccines but still only 3% of the population has received both doses so far.
They’ve also been using medicines that have been declared evil and wrong by the WHO and CDC because Trump may have mentioned or used them: Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir and Ivermectin, some of which are being given as prophylactics. Oh and zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D. Shhh.
If Trump ever claimed breathing was good for your health, we’d enjoy watching Fauci and Tedros turn blue in the face.
None of this is to say that everything’s fine in India, nor that authorities are doing an excellent job in handling it. I doubt that either of these assertions is true.
Rather, the panicked headlines are overcooked for the usual reasons, the worst of it seems to be over for now, and we may finally get some useful data on those naughty treatments that the Bad Man advocated.
I can’t see Covid deaths in India getting anywhere near TB deaths – a disease you ought to be concerned about because misuse of antibiotics in India and elsewhere is creating drug-resistant varieties that may one day reach our shores. It just goes to show what the media beats up and what it ignores.
Oh, and that terrifying Indian mutant variety of Covid that means we must permanently lockdown and lose all our ancestral liberties forever, just in case? It may be more contagious than other varieties (further study needed) but existing vaccines will probably work against it and it seems no deadlier than other varieties.
Who am I talking to? Those who need to read this, won’t.
Some people want to be scared and will eat up misleading headlines gleefully.