Growth rate in India’s Covid testing declines

Annapurani. V | | Updated on: Nov 01, 2020

There is a clear trend of new Covid-19 infections declining in the country, with 48,120 cases reported on October 30 compared to the peak of 97,859 cases on September 16. However, the number of daily tests continue to grow at a lower rate.

The overall tests conducted in India stood at 10,77,28,088 on October 29. In the initial stages of the pandemic, there was an urgency to scale up tests and a sharp growth was seen in daily tests. But this growth is slowing now. The 10-day change in the number of cumulative tests done — or the 10-day rolling growth rate — has been declining since the peak recorded on April 6. The growth is currently at 11 per cent.

Even among the States that test the most, such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the growth rate in daily tests done has been falling. Case in point, the 10-day rolling growth rate for the cumulative tests done in Uttar Pradesh stood at 10 per cent as on October 29, over a one-third fall from the 32 per cent growth mid-August. Likewise, for Bihar it stood at 13 per cent, a steep decline from 102 per cent on August 15.

Dip in focus

Commenting on the decline in the growth rate of the cumulative testing numbers, Himanshu Sikka, Lead, Wealth, Nutrition and WASH, IPE Global, said that mathematically, this could be because now the base has increased to a certain level. Initially, 1,000 tests per day were conducted, which necessitated a 100x growth rate; now the count has increased to one million tests per day, and so the growth rate required is not that much.

That apart, Sikka said: “One of the big reasons is that we got the initial impetus on testing and there was a lot of focus to ensure that tests are happening regularly; now that focus on increasing the testing infrastructure has, to some extent, reduced.”

“If we look at the months of April, May and June, one had to actually struggle to get a test done. Nowadays you don’t hear anybody complaining, at least in the cities, about the dearth of testing. But the situation might be different in smaller towns,” he said, adding: “The testing infrastructure is not uniformly spread across the country. The smaller towns and districts still have limited testing infrastructure available and shortages are still there. These States which have bigger infrastructure have to focus on spreading the infrastructure to the district-level as well. Besides the pandemic, this will also help improve the district-level capacities and diagnostics for the long-term.”

Fewer tests per million

The country’s tests per million population also were lower compared to the US and Brazil, data from Worldometer showed. India’s count stood at 76,971 as against the US’ 4,27,174 and Brazil’s 1,02,789, on October 29. A look at the overall testing numbers showed that the US, which has the highest number of infections in the world, has also conducted the maximum number of tests. Its count stood at 141,669,328 on October 29. On the other hand, Brazil’s was lower than India’s tally, at 21,900,000.

Published on November 01, 2020
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