Why Is Kerala Reporting So Many More COVID-19 Cases Than Other Indian States? -Rijo M John

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published Published on Jul 26, 2021   modified Modified on Jul 27, 2021


The eyes of many experts and non-experts alike are currently on Kerala, as its COVID-19 case load has been increasing in increments far greater than any other state in India. The average number of daily new cases reached a low of 11,000 around the last week of June, 2021, and it has since been rising, albeit slowly, over the past two weeks. At the same time, the number of cases elsewhere in the country has been falling after a major second-wave peak in the first week of May.

The average daily new cases is currently at about 16,000, and Kerala currently accounts for close to 35% of all active cases in the country. Needless to say, the dominant narrative in the public discourse is that Kerala has failed to contain its COVID-19 epidemic.

But is this narrative true? Let us take a dive into the official COVID-19 data of Kerala and of India to check if there is any merit in the argument.

It’s important to understand that the number of reported infections on any day depends on the effectiveness of surveillance, through tracking, tracing and testing. As there is a huge variability in these factors across different states, it would be unfair to make a straightforward comparison of reported cases in each state, or that of Kerala, against India.

One way to assess the extent of infection spread in a population is to check for the presence of antibodies against the virus through seroprevalence surveys. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has thus far performed four nationwide seroprevalence surveys at different intervals over the course of the pandemic. The preliminary results from the fourth round of the survey – the latest – indicate that the seroprevalence for all of India is 67.6% while that of Kerala is 42.7% – a difference of 25 percentage points. In fact, one can see that the seroprevalence has consistently been far lower in Kerala compared to the national average over all four surveys.

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TheWire.in, 26 July, 2021, https://science.thewire.in/health/why-is-kerala-reporting-so-many-more-covid-19-cases-than-other-indian-states/

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