Episode 105: Covid’s Hidden Burden

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Two nights a week on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one: are we missing the story of whom covid has affected the worst?

It’s Day 346 of the novel coronavirus epidemic in India, and we are reporting 9,762,245 cases with 141,735 deaths. One of the things that I’ve been trying to understand lately is what we can say about the communities who have been affected thus far, and what that says about where the virus might potentially go next. Since this is not information that is directly available, it needs to be put together through a combination of closely examining sero-survey data, plotting lab-confirmed cases geographically as much as possible, and scanning and analysing news reporting. One of the people who has been doing this consistently and then putting out his observations both in the media and on his university webpage for the more complex mathematical stuff is Murad Banaji, a mathematician and lecturer at Middlesex University in the UK who I’ve had on the show before.

Here’s his piece on Bihar’s numbers.

Here’s some work by him on Mumbai’s numbers.

Here’s his webpage for his mathematical modelling.

I worry that we’ve already gone too far down the road to be able to answer these questions, given that they aren’t a part of the testing form or any sero-surveys so far. Perhaps in the future, a household survey could help fill some of these gaps for India.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. On the next episode, a new question.

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I am a data journalist based in Chennai, India.

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