MYSTERY: Why are India’s coronavirus rates plunging?

The South Asian nation’s coronavirus infection rates have consistently dropped since September 2020.

By World Israel News Staff

India was supposed to be a coronavirus disaster story. With a population of 1.3 billion people, notoriously crowded cities and slums, an underdeveloped healthcare system and a large number of citizens without access to running water, it’s easy to see why experts predicted mass fatalities for the South Asian nation.

But India has turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the pandemic. Since September 2020, the nation’s coronavirus infection rates have consistently dropped, and scientists are puzzled as to why.

“It’s not that India is testing less or things are going underreported,” says Jishnu Das, a health economist at Georgetown University, told NPR. “It’s been rising, rising — and now suddenly, it’s vanished! I mean, hospital ICU utilization has gone down. Every indicator says the numbers are down.”

Some chalk it up to the country’s climate. Based on initial research from a variety of studies, it appears that the virus has a more difficult time spreading in hot and humid environments.

“The temperature, of course, is in our favor. We do not have too cold of a climate,” Dr. Daksha Shah, a Mumbai epidemiologist, told NPR. “So many viruses are known to multiply more in colder regions.”

Others credit the high rates of other contagious diseases in India as a factor. Dengue fever, typhoid, malaria and cholera are all common in India.

Ironically, a lack of access to clean water, sanitary food, and basic hygienic facilities means that many Indians have developed a particularly robust immune system.

“All of us have pretty good immunity! Look at the average Indian: He or she has probably had malaria at some point in his life or typhoid or dengue,” said urban policy expert Sayli Udas-Mankikar. “You end up with basic immunity toward grave diseases.”

For now, the scientific community are left scratching their heads over the secret to India’s coronavirus success.

“Some processes must have happened,” said health expert Das. “We need some more deeper evidence and deeper studies.”