Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Every night on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m asking this one — what do comorbidities mean for the epidemic in India?
Vox reports that “Seventy-eight percent of all people put into intensive care for Covid-19 in the US have had an underlying condition like diabetes or heart disease: 32 percent had diabetes, 29 percent had heart disease, 21 percent had chronic lung disease, and 9 percent had compromised immune systems.” https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/4/8/21207269/covid-19-coronavirus-risk-factors
So who does this put at greatest risk in India?
India’s richest states including Kerala, Delhi and Goa are far along in this epidemiological transition and so face a higher risk of comorbidities in the the treatment of the novel coronavirus. But what is also worrying is that India’s poorest states have witnessed faster growth in these non-communicable diseases than the richest states, putting them at a growing risk. https://theprint.in/opinion/indias-poorest-states-have-a-triple-burden-will-struggle-in-a-full-blown-covid-strike/401880/
In Chicago, 70 percent of those who have died from Covid-19 are black, even though black people make up only 29 percent of the city’s population. “The majority of the black COVID-19 patients who died had underlying health conditions including respiratory problems and diabetes. Eighty-one percent of them had hypertension, or high blood pressure, diabetes or both,” WBEZ in Chicago reports. https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/4/8/21207269/covid-19-coronavirus-risk-factors
We do not yet have enough demographic information on India’s covid cases to be able to say which communities and income groups have been hit the hardest, but there’s reason to be worried that the most marginalised will disproportionately be in harm’s way.
Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Tomorrow — a new question.