Sudip Banik Guwahati India
Corona Virus: Global trend and prediction – a statistical analysis
As I write this article, the global corona virus mayhem stands at 559165, ACTIVE: 405030, DEATHS: 25354 and RECOVERIES: 128781. India’s figures so far ACTIVE: 770, DEATHS: 20 and RECOVERIES: 73, totaling to a not so staggering 863 cases if compared to Italy, Spain, China and the fast catching up USA (source: www.covidvisualizer.com).
USA it seems is in a league of its own. Call it ignorance or arrogance, for the mighty shall not fall predilection been blown to tethers by the underdog corona spitting vehemence against mighty and puny alike. It knows no barriers, doesn’t distinguish between the rich and the poor and treats every cast and creed alike, with death. First, it was a hastily declared antidote which seems to be of little use if ever increasing victim counts are to be taken into account, 86548 cases in all, ACTIVE: 83338, DEATHS: 1321 and RECOVERIES: 1889 and secondly, a hurried press conference to announce victory against the invincible, President Trump has been going all wrong. The U.S. has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any country in the world, surpassing China, where the pandemic began. Experts see a similarity in the trend of virus upsurge for both USA and India and fear the Indian epidemic might go the American way. Here, I have tried to analyze some of the WHO statistical modelling for Covid-19 which aims to predict and forecast COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries through predictive modelling in the case of non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI).
The effect of control strategies to reduce social mixing on outcomes of the COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan, China: a modelling study
This model examined how changes in population mixing affected outbreak progression in Wuhan, by using synthetic location-specific contact patterns and adapted these in the presence of school closures, extended workplace closures, and a reduction in mixing in the general community. The projections showed that physical distancing measures were most effective if the staggered return to work was at the beginning of April; this reduced the median number of infections by more than 92% (IQR 66–97) and 24% (13–90) in mid-2020 and end-2020, respectively. There are benefits to sustaining these measures until April in terms of delaying and reducing the height of the peak, median epidemic size at end-2020, and affording health-care systems more time to expand and respond. However, the modelled effects of physical distancing measures vary by the duration of infectiousness.
COVID-19 Modeling with IndiaSIM
This model fitted available data from China and Italy. Key parameters included were force of infection, age and gender-specific infection rates, severe infection, and case-fatality rates. Seasonality was assumed based on the idea that most respiratory infections decline in the summer and although COVID-19’s temperature and humidity are not well understood, it was reasonably assumed that some characteristics of seasonal influenza apply here.
The scenarios taken were:
• High – Trajectory with current lockdowns but insufficient physical distancing or compliance.
• Medium – Most likely scenario with moderate to full compliance but no change in virulence or temperature/humidity sensitivity.
• Low – Optimistic scenario with decreased virulence and temperature/humidity sensitivity.
Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand in US and UK
This model focusses on two fundamental strategies possible: (a) mitigation, which focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread – reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection, and (b) suppression, which aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely. It goes on with its findings that optimal mitigation policies (combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease) might reduce peak healthcare demand by 2/3 and deaths by half. However, the resulting mitigated epidemic would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over.
FINDINGS – Almost all the studies observed, though has its uniqueness in respect to geographical locations and demographic trends, however has certain similarities which brings about a conclusive evidence.
• Though normalcy has started to begun in the Wuhan province, with the Chinese government claiming to have controlled its worst epidemic, however it is advisable to restrict activities until April to evade a second outbreak.
• Projections detailing to Wuhan suggest that premature and sudden lifting of interventions could lead to an earlier secondary peak, which could be flattened by relaxing the interventions gradually.
• India’s community transmission of COVID-19 in all likelihood have already started during early March.
• In a country like India, state level containment would be a much better option than national containment with mitigation being the best solution.
• An estimated 30 – 40 crore Indians are likely to be infected by July, however most of these cases will be mild.
• Covid-19 cases in India might peak somewhere in between April – May’2020 with an approximate 10 crore severe condition, out of which roughly about 4 crore will require hospitalization.
• Social distancing can reduce peak load of cases by as much as 75%.
• US is headed towards a catastrophe where after New York, Louisiana could be next in line and could be out of ventilators and bed space by the 1st week of April.
COVID-19 still torments one and all as a mysterious disease and medics around the world are still unclear about its infectiousness syndrome, which means we can only obtain an accurate prediction after the outbreak ends. The outbreak spreads are largely influenced by each country’s policy and social responsibility. As data transparency is crucial inside the government, it is also our responsibility not to spread unverified news and to remain calm in this situation. Healthcare facilities in India is yet to be at its best with a meagre 0.7 hospital beds per 1000 people in comparision to 3.2, 2.8 and 4.3 for Italy, US and China respectively. Clearly, with a bed-population ratio of nearly 1:1000, and with around one million hospital beds and less than 1,00,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, India is hardly prepared to confront even a moderate surge. The models analyzed has shown the importance of information dissemination that can help in improving response time, and help planning in advance to help reduce risk. Further studies need to be done to help contain the outbreak as soon as possible.
Nirbhaya Verdict – Mockery of the Judicial System
‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ – a well-known proverb. Talk about its implications and it is none other than Asha Devi, Nirbhaya’s ill begotten mother who had to wait long for her share of justice ever since the brutal assault on her daughter on that fateful night of December 2012. Asha Devi’s statement in retaliation to a tweet by ace lawyer Indira Jaising urging her to forgive the four men on death row sums it up all, “Even if God asks me, I won't forgive them.”
A visibly choked mother, in a recent interview to India Today stated her 8 year ordeal which started with the doctors testifying to the fact how her princess was mauled to such a degree of vehemence which would put even the fiercest of wild animals to shame and might probably end with the sight of those anthropophagi dwindling to the golden noose. The visuals were heart wrenching – a soulless body drenched with blood stood witness to the fact that probably she was dragged to a jungle by some wild animal and somehow managed to break free from the clutches of death. Only when the perpetrators to the crime were brought into picture, did the heinous nature of the crime dwell upon the onlookers. Torn clothes, ripped lips, fleshes apart and blood oozing out – all told tales of the dastardly act. The doctors at Safdarjung Hospital, where Nirbhaya was initially admitted were at a loss to understand which body parts to stitch first. She was even denied food and water, for her body was left with no mechanism to utilize those. Her ordeal ended with her death but her mother’s continues still with the pain of seeing her loved one suffocate and succumb, not even able to gulp a drop of water during her last days.
As on date, all four death row convicts have been hanged in spite of their best efforts to delay the inevitable, the latest being approaching the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on the execution of their death sentence. President Ram Nath Kovind had rejected the mercy petitions of all the convicts in the matter. However, a ‘complete’ mercy petition of convict Akshay Singh Thakur was also filed claiming that the previous one, which was rejected by the President, did not have ‘complete facts’. These developments came close on the heels after Nirbhaya's parents and the Delhi government moved the court seeking fresh death warrants for the convicts after the Supreme Court granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convicts. The date of execution, first fixed for January 22 in Tihar jail, was later postponed for 6 am on February 1 by a January 17 court order. The trial court had on January 31 stayed ‘till further orders’ execution of the four convicts in the case, who were lodged in Tihar Jail. Even before the convicts had started to delay justice by playing with the loopholes of our judiciary, the system had very effectively mitigated its role. Nirbhaya case was admitted at a fast track court for speedy trial which awarded its death sentence on September 2013. Ever since, citing one reason or the other the perpetrators had been able to evade the hangman’s noose.
Worth mentioning is that all the convicts were slum dwellers and from the economically poorer section. It’s not that I am demeaning anybody, but would reiterate upon the fact that without money or muscle power it is practically impossible for someone of the caliber of these hooligans to understand the intricacies of the judiciary and challenge the law of the land, surprisingly getting away with success even if temporarily. This clearly indicates the support of external agencies, but brings the incompetence of humanity to the fore. Since 2017, after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence from three years earlier, it is the defence that had done everything possible to delay the verdict. But the question has to be asked: if verdicts are constantly challenged and postponed for one of the most talked-about criminal cases the country has ever seen, what faith does this instil in those whose trials are not broadcast on national news, those whose cases are not ‘fast tracked’?
There have been instances where the delinquents were audacious enough to threaten the victim with dire consequences and a Nirbhaya like situation. Couldn’t the situation have been reversed wherein the punishment meted out should had set an example for the wrongdoers and spared every vulnerable victim the nightmare of pain and embarrassment? Was this too much for an asking? Why is it that human right activists were vouching for these culpable? What makes lawyers like Indira Jaising tweet and suggest Asha Devi to forgive those persons whose tryst with hell was already long due? Who was lawyer A.P. Singh actually representing when he stated that, “I am of the opinion that any condemned convict must not meet his creator with a grievance in his bosom that the courts of this country have not acted fairly in granting him an opportunity to exhaust his legal remedies”? Are all these a political vendetta? Well, the answer seems intangible where probably no one or only time would tell.
Nirbhaya case shook the backbone of our country and questioned our very existence. Just the thought of it sends chill down our spine. Imagine those who had to go through all these. First Nirbhaya and now her family. Nirbhaya’s last words were that these rapists should be burnt alive, thankfully I would say she is no more to witness the mockery of our judicial system. This case has no doubt brought about a sea change to our existing judicial laws dealing with sexual assault with the introduction of fast track courts and POSCO acts, but do we see the same sea change difference in the crime rates. How ironic it is where on one hand we are a country who idolizes women as goddess, and on the other hand we also feature in the top 5 most vulnerable country in women safety, if reports from ‘Thomson Reuters Foundation experts’ survey’ are to be believed. Fought for her right did the brave Lakshmibai, every girl still does, gender equality being a far cry. It is high time the judiciary should brood over its loopholes and rectify it for timely and effective justice delivery, or should we as a nation support the extra-judicial execution in the 2019 Hyderabad gang rape case, wherein the dreaded culprits were taken to the scene of the crime for a reconstruction of events as part of the investigation and had to be shot for they snatched police weapons and fired on them before trying to escape. Food for thought.