The Moving Curve: Episode 56

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 considering this one — are we tracking respiratory illnesses as well as we should be?

India’s latest COVID testing strategy: https://www.icmr.gov.in/pdf/covid/strategy/Testing_Strategy_v5_18052020.pdf

The April 9 testing strategy: https://www.icmr.gov.in/pdf/covid/strategy/Strategey_for_COVID19_Test_v4_09042020.pdf

March 20 testing strategy: https://www.icmr.gov.in/pdf/covid/strategy/2020-03-20_covid19_test_v3.pdf

The World Health Organisation’s definition of ILI and SARI: https://www.who.int/influenza/surveillance_monitoring/ili_sari_surveillance_case_definition/en/

The ICMR study of Covid incidence in SARI cases: http://www.ijmr.org.in/article.asp?issn=0971-5916;year=2020;volume=151;issue=2;spage=236;epage=240;aulast=Gupta

The Brazilian govt’s dashboard that includes SARI data: https://covid.saude.gov.br/

The Brazil SARI study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32321075/

This would have been useful information for India. As we also know by now, hospitalisations have been severely disrupted by the lockdown, so investigations into cases of respiratory illness would need to go directly into the community.

Let’s accept that we’ve missed the bus on estimating if there were early covid cases that we were missing. Surely we can activate our ILI and SARI networks at least now to see if there is a surge, and test these cases more systematically so we know if we are missing cases? And lastly, a fervent appeal for transparency about how exactly the government is using its ILI and SARI networks.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Tomorrow — a new question.

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I am a data journalist based in Chennai, India.

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