Home > News > India > Who are India’s covid-19 patients?

The median Indian covid-19 patient is just 39 years old, and over 70 female patients contracted it from a male relative, an analysis of the demographic details of over 2,500 Indian patients shows.

While the health ministry’s website and many other privately-run dashboards collect daily updated numbers for the total number of cases and death, the COVID-19 India Network database collates anonymised information about each patient including a patient's demographics, his or her relationship with other patients, travel history and current health status.

“We are a group of dedicated volunteers who curate and verify the data coming from several sources," the group said in a statement, “..so that people with knowledge can use this data to make informed decisions." As data sources, they use state press and health bulletins, official social media handles, and some news sources to update their numbers. That data is then cross-checked with other sources by a group of volunteers and published into a publicly viewable Google sheet and an API, along with every data source used. The total numbers are slightly higher than those of the union health ministry because they are obtained from various state administrations.

Mint’s analysis is based on data collected by the group until April 3, 2020. While the total database at the time was of 2536 people, not all demographic details about each patient were available yet.

Of the patients whose age details were available, the median patient was 39. The median age of those who tested positive in Italy, in comparison, was 63. This is in line with the overall demographic differences between the two countries. The median Indian is 28.4 years of age in 2020, while the median Italian is 47.3, according to UN population estimates.

This is similar to estimates put out by the health ministry on Saturday evening. “8.61% cases is between 0-20 years, 41.88% cases is between 21 to 40 years, 32.82% cases is between 41 to 60 years and 16.69% cases above 60 years", the ministry said in a press statement.

Of the 73 deceased patients in the crowdsourced database, demographic details were available for half. The median Indian deceased patient was older, at 57, compared to the median patient. Just two people under 40 have died so far, the available data shows. In Italy, for comparison, the median deceased patient is 80 years old.

As in other parts of the world, there are far more male COVID-19 patients and deaths in India than there are male. One likely cause of this is the large number of cases contracted during the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, which was a religious event for men only. The other is the far higher numbers in which men travel compared to women.

Among the 202 female patients for whom transmission details were available, 90 returned from overseas, while 74 are relatives of men who contracted it, largely overseas. Another 12 contracted the virus in their line of work, six of them as doctors or nurses.

In all, 542 of the cases are those in which the patient returned from overseas travel - or “imported cases" - while the rest are either “local transmission", or have too little information to be classified. While relatively little demographic detail is currently available about the people in the database known to have contracted the virus from the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi, the group’s visualisation of the patient data gives an indication of what a large segment of the Indian coronavirus outbreak landscape that cluster now occupies. Over 1,000 confirmed cases have been linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, the health ministry said on Saturday.

Given the large volume of cases for which details are still missing, it’s difficult to draw conclusions about the scale of unrelated or community transmission. From the available data, it would seem that most have contracted it from overseas, or from a family member or close contact, or at the Tablighi Jamaat event. Contracting the virus at one degree of removal has been relatively rare. However, that is changing over time. At least five people contracted it by simply travelling in the same local transport as an infected person. Another 21 got it while working for or alongside an infected person.

As India begins to contemplate life after the lockdown, insights into who India’s covid-19 patients are may provide some pathways out. Protecting the elderly and immuno-compromised from the worst ravages of the virus is likely to prove difficult if young people continue to contract it at a high rate and then spread it widely within the family.


Subscribe to newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Click here to read the Mint ePaper Livemint.com is now on Telegram. Join Livemint channel in your Telegram and stay updated

Close
×
My Reads Logout