Will India soon have the highest number of corona cases in the world?

When Coronavirus hit China worst and then moved to Europe and the US, India still had less number of Covid-19 cases and deaths due to Coronavirus. However, India had an early lockdown along with most of the worst-hit countries and even after a month of lockdown, India’s total number of Covid-19 cases remained around 100000. That was a very impressive figure for a country with 1.33 billion people and with one of the worst health infrastructures.

However, gradually the number of cases in India has increased and currently it’s around 456000 active cases and more than 14000 death with the fastest per day increase in the number of new cases as well as the number of deaths. All these numbers are based on the lowest testing percentage in the world, that is 3.78 tests per 1,000 individuals, hence the actual number can really be higher than his.

India, currently, is the fourth worst-hit country by Coronavirus after the US which has nearly 2.5 million cases and more than 100000 deaths, and then Brazil with more than 1000000 cases and Russia with 600000 cases.

UK, Spain and Italy are countries that rank after India and all the three have decreasing daily number of cases as well as deaths. Hence, it’s less likely that any of those countries show a further increasing trend. Even if they show, that is less likely to be higher than India. Another trend is the increasing total number of cases in Peru and Chile. The data collated by the World Health Organization and Coronavirus Health Research Centre at Johns Hopkins University shows the global trend of Coronavirus as well as the trend among the countries that have a higher number of cases.

Source: Coronavirus Health Research Centre, Johns Hopkins University.


In the US the first case of Covid-19 was reported on 1/22/2010. Since then, the US has reported around 2312302 cases and 120402 deaths. Currently, the number of cases as well as the death is decreasing in comparison to the April-May months which is considered to be the peak of Covid-19 in the US.

Source: Coronavirus Health Research Centre, Johns Hopkins University.


Brazil reported its first case of Covid-19 on 2/25/2020. Since then, the country has reported around 1106470 cases, and 51271 deaths. Brazil is the only country among the top three that shows a fluctuating trend and the number of cases as well as the death rate can go up in Brazil.

Source: Coronavirus Health Research Centre, Johns Hopkins University.


Russia reported its first case on 1/30/2020. Since then, the country has reported around 591465 cases, and 8196 deaths. In comparison to the month of May, the number of cases as well as the number of deaths has come down. Russia already had less number of deaths due to Coronavirus considering the high number of cases that it had.

Source: Coronavirus Health Research Centre, Johns Hopkins University.



India’s first case was reported on 1/29/2020. Since then the country has reported around 440215 cases and 14011 deaths. India is the only country among the top four that shows the highest spike in the number of cases as well as death and it’s alarmingly increasing day by day.

It’s a little early to suggest that if the US, Russia and Brazil are flattening the curve. However, the decreasing trend of new Coronavirus cases and death is clear in the US and Russia and for an extended in Brazil. India’s curve is accelerating day by day with higher per day cases and number of deaths. Hence, it’s certain that in July India will become the third-highest Coronavirus cases outnumbering Russia.

It is also estimated by various studies that until September-November, the number of cases are likely to go up in India, in that case, around August, India is likely to become the second-highest number of cases, as Delhi alone is likely to have nearly 600000 new cases, this might be the similar trend with Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other hotspots. In that case, by September India might be the highest Coronavirus cases in the world if it can’t control the spread of the virus and there is no vaccine in place. However, India ranks lower in the death rate out of Coronavirus so far with a 3.4 percentage while Italy and the UK had a 14 percentage death rate. Hence, we still have to see if the number of deaths can go up in India.

India’s major number of cases are spread across in few states such as Maharashtra (136000 cases and 6283 deaths), Tamil Nadu (64000 cases and 528 deaths), Delhi (62000 cases and 2233 deaths) and Gujarat (27825 cases and 1684 deaths) and Uttar Pradesh (18893 cases and 588 deaths) followed by Rajasthan, West Bengal, Madya Pradesh and Haryana each with more than 10000 cases and around 500 deaths.


The unfolding new crisis in India

 The Prime Minister had announced a full lockdown in the entire country from 25th March.

That extended into more than two months of lockdown in four phases and then the unlocking started with fewer restrictions from the first week of June. The lockdown period was one of the horrible and biggest exodus of migrant workers from across the cities to their homes without food, drinking water and transport facilities. India, unlike any other country that went into lockdown, witnessed a humanitarian crisis. Around a thousand people died during the lockdown, while walking, due to starvation and financial distress, dying in Shramik trains and out of police brutality and violence, etc. The lockdown seems to have only helped to delay the period of virus spreading and this time that should have been utilized to prepare for the forthcoming outbreak was rendered futile.

While the sufferings of the lockdown still continue a new crisis is unfolding in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, etc. where even people who are middle class and rich are not able to get beds and other emergency health care facilities and are dying.

Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had already announced, Delhi is likely to have 5.5 lakh coronavirus cases by July 31 based on the current doubling rate of the infection. Delhi is likely to show the same trend as New York, the difference will be Delhi’s lack of hospital beds, ventilators and emergency care. Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad are already running out of basic facilities for the Covid-19 patients who need critical care, and if the numbers sky rocket like this, the coming weeks will be catastrophic.

Can anything be done now? The prime minister in his recent speeches focused mostly about being Atmanirbhar, which means being self-dependent and self-sufficient. This gives a clear indication that the union government is withdrawing from the responsibilities and how states, districts, communities and people have to find ways to be self-depended and self-sufficient in this crisis.

India’s economy was already sputtering before the pandemic and currently, the GDP estimates are negative growth for 2020-21. Hence, it is unlikely that the government shut down any economic activity and it will be difficult to have another countrywide lockdown. However, there are few steps that can help in this late hour, religious gatherings are currently allowed with restrictions, this can be dispensed with until the danger is over. Hotels and shopping malls which are also open can be restricted without the business not being much impacted. Stricter guidelines should be made to keep vulnerable populations like elders, children and people with other health conditions out of danger. More preventive guidelines should be formulated and ensure the implementation to stop the virus spreading while the necessary economic activity continues. Though converting of the hotels, trains and other facilities for the patients who need critical care is on the way, those facilities would need more ventilators, ICU’s and health care workers. This is essential to reduce the number of deaths.

Ajmal Khan is a researcher based in Delhi. He tweets at https://twitter.com/ajmalkhanat


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