The trajectory of new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the United States, which has been climbing with the start of a third wave of infections, has surpassed that of India’s, which has been dropping steadily in the past five weeks.
This means that India is no longer the country reporting the most new infections in the world for the first time since August 8, when it overtook the US to become the world’s largest source of daily Covid-19 cases.
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In the week ended Wednesday, the US reported 430,333 new Covid-19 cases (an average of 61,476 cases every day) against 400,299 cases in India (an average of 57,186 daily cases) — the highest and second highest number of daily cases globally, according to worldometers.info and HT’s Covid-19 dashboard.
While the US reported more daily cases than those in India as early as October 15, single-day figures generally fluctuate due to drop in testing over weekends. The seven-day average is a better, and universally accepted measure of a new-case trajectory as it takes into account the weekend drop in numbers and other daily fluctuations.
India’s case trajectory eclipsed the US’s for the first time on August 8, and on August 29, India’s trajectory became the steepest ever recorded by any country, when its seven-day average hit 70,741, eclipsing the peak infection rate in the US during the country’s second wave.
In the past month, the US has been seeing a resurgence of cases in what experts are calling the third wave of infections in the country. The second wave peaked in the US on July 25 with 69,887 daily infections. It then bottomed out to 35,585 new cases every day around the middle of September, and started rising again.
This was incidentally around the same time that the first (and so far only) wave in India peaked. Infections in India have been dropping since they touched a peak of 93,617 new cases for the week ended September 16, according to HT’s Covid-19 dashboard. In the five weeks since, this number has dropped every single day and was 57,186 on Wednesday — down around 39% from the peak.
India’s drop in cases has been caused by a dip in new infections in nearly all states and Union territories, particularly by the states that have so far caused the national spike in cases — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.
Since the first week of August, India had been closing the gap on the US since the former became the epicentre of the pandemic in the world. On August 8, India had around 3 million fewer cases than the US – 2.15 million cases against 5.12 million in the US. As of Wednesday night, this gap had been reduced to 879,000 cases – the US remains the country with the most cases in the world with 8.58 million cases of Covid-19 against 7.7 million in India.
Now with new cases in the US outstripping those in India, the US is again going to start opening up its lead as the nation that has been the worst hit by the viral outbreak.
Experts and the government have warned that with the festive season coming up, the Indian curve may rise again if people let their guard down during the celebrations. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned the country in an address to the nation that any laxity during the festive season could lead to a spike in infections. “If you are being careless, you are putting yourself, your families, your elders and your children at risk,” he said.
Brazil, meanwhile, remains on the third spot and has reported an average of 22,736 daily infections for the week ended on Wednesday. It has remained at the third spot in terms of new infections since the end of July, when India’s trajectory overtook the one from the South American nation. Brazil had a total of 5.3 million cases as of Wednesday night.
Together, the three worst-hit nations have accounted for more than 21 million Covid-19 infections. This means that more than half, or 52%, of all Covid-19 cases have been in these three countries.