With Lockdown 4.0 looming over, in most of the states, you may be thinking what is it that we have achieved.

A lockdown in theory can achieve the following:

  • It reduces the exposure of the susceptible population.
  • It reduces the rate of infection and hence flattens the curve.
  • It pushes the date, when we are going to run out of resources, further away and that can help us ramp up.
  • It allows a protocol such as contact tracing to contain the disease and prevent it from entering stage three.

All these help save lives at the cost of economy and personal liberty.

Setting aside politics where the ruling party is trying to justify all the actions that they are taking and the opposition trying to criticize every move and discredit the administration, let us analyse the data and how we are faring as a nation. In this series of articles we shall analyse each of the above points and try to find out how many lives have we saved.

In his opening remarks at the Mar 3 media briefing on Covid19, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated: “Globally, about 3.4% of reported Covid19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”

Without understanding details, a naive person would do the following arithmetic. In India, with an estimated population of 1,38,00,04,000, about 4,69,20,136 would die as a result of the pandemic. While the good news is that it will not cause our race to become extinct, the number is still many times higher than anything that has mass-killed citizens. The last known such deaths happened during the partition of India when about 20 lakh people died. The last time when 3% of World population was wiped out was during the WW-II.

Now that this caught everybody’s attention, a war to save lives was declared. China first implemented the Lockdown protocol. With Iron first they implemented it quickly ironed out the execution details and came out of it fast. Their exposed population was around 1/2 a percent. Their success set the precedent and advisors concluded that the Lockdown protocol was the best way to deal with the disease. However it came at an overwhelming economic cost pushing most other countries which implemented it into a recession. The argument that the collateral damage done to save the lives would be more than the lives saved started to gain momentum. Some people thought that the disease just kills the elder population who are most likely not in the workforce. They would die sooner or later and people thought that it was OK to sacrifice such lives in the interest of the greater good of the nation. Trying to save this population would put the working population at risk due to the economic hardships caused. The losses on the personal front had to be borne with and many argued in favor of this opinion. Even after toying with such ideas, no major country could implement such choices. The choice on who should be allowed to live was something that nobody was comfortable to make - right from the policy maker to the medical staff deployed in the overcrowding hospitals. The Indian leadership was clear from the first day that saving lives was the first priority and nothing else was more important.They started clamping down a serious of Lockdowns back to back.

(To be continued…)