Mumbai: Even though both Covid positive cases and deaths are on the decline in the state, the case fatality rate or CFR is still high in Maharashtra because fatalities have not fallen as drastically as the infections. During June 1 and 11, the state reported a CFR of 2.41%, up from 1.45% in the first 11 days of May and 0.5% in the same period in April.
Although cases between June 1 and 11 have witnessed a dip of 76% compared to the same period in April, deaths have gone up 11%. Between May and June so far, the cases have dropped by 75%, but deaths by 63%.
Officials said big cities like Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, which peaked earlier, have stabilised in terms of deaths, but smaller districts and towns are driving Covid deaths in the state.
As Maharashtra’s various districts witnessed different peaks, the CFR is higher in June, suggesting that the state is still not completely out of danger.
“Districts like Satara, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri are now adding higher deaths than Mumbai. Cases in these districts started surging later, so deaths are yet to stabilise,” said a senior official. Officials said they expect deaths to fall significantly too in the next two weeks as critical cases in the state are on the decline.
Experts said that while CFR is usually considered over a period of time, CFR over a 10-day period too shows an increasing or decreasing trend.
This calculation does not include the large number of deaths that have been added to the cumulative toll as part of the data reconciliation exercise as there is no clarity regarding the period in which those deaths have occurred. The reconciliation process will affect the overall CFR. Since May 17, the state has added over 13,000 deaths to the cumulative toll as part of the reconciliation process.
Epidemiologist Dr Giridhar Babu from the Public Health Foundation of India said that adding five-digit numbers to the toll would definitely change the cumulative death rate. Many corporations and states have the tendency to add “old” deaths after the peak (of an epidemic or pandemic) is over. “But deaths cannot be hidden. Bihar was by court intervention required to carry out a data reconciliation exercise. Every state needs to do it,” he said.
National Health Mission commissioner N Ramaswami said the death data reconciliation exercise would not impact the state’s cumulative death rate, which hovers between 1.7% and 1.8% at present. The state has declared over 1.06 lakh deaths so far, and adding another 10% wouldn’t change anything. “We are being transparent in data gathering and presentation so that we have the entire picture,” he said.
Planning for the third wave, which many experts said is inevitable, would be more effective if there is appropriate transparency about the second wave.