Lack of health facilities behind low COVID-19 deaths in India, studies show
A recent study has revealed that millions of Indians stand at a lesser risk of contracting coronavirus as they are devoid of basic health facilities. Factors such as low hygiene, lack of clean drinking water, and unsanitary conditions may have contributed to lower deaths from severe COVID-19.
Two papers written by Indian scientists, which are yet to be peer-reviewed, have suggested that people living in low and low-middle-income countries may have developed immunity to COVID-19 as they are exposed to various communicable diseases. The researchers looked at deaths per million of the population to compare death rates.
India, which is home to one-sixth of the world's population, has accounted for a sixth of the reported cases. However, it has seen only 10% of the world's deaths from the virus. The rate of measuring deaths, known as case fatality rates (CFR), is less than 2%, which is among the lowest in the world.
“To our mind, the only way to explain comparative lower mortality in these regions with relative lack of sanitation and resultant higher incidence of diarrhea coupled with low health efficiency, low expected healthy life span, a higher percentage of people living in slums or rural area is the possible role of immunity,” stated the report named, “COVID 19 mortality: Probable role of the microbiome to explain disparity” by two Indian doctors, Parveen Kumar and Bal Chander.
The analysis was carried on reported numbers of total of 1,01,12,754 cases 5,01,562 deaths as of the June 29, 2020 as well as with 60-day interval data as of August 7, 2020. Further 90 days and 120 days interval data as on September 16, 2020 was also included.
Another report, “The mortality due to COVID-19 in different nations is associated with the demographic character of nations and the prevalence of autoimmunity” compiled by Bithika Chatterjee, Rajeeva Laxman Karandikar, and Shekhar C Mande stated a “hygiene hypothesis” which depicts how communicable diseases affect immunity.
“One of the reasons of rising prevalence in autoimmune disorders in the western countries has been proposed to be that related to the “hygiene hypothesis”. The hypothesis postulates that exposure to pathogens early in life protects people from allergic diseases later in their lives. Moreover, improvement in hygiene practices such as better sanitation, availability of safe drinking water, hand-washing facilities, etc. reduces the impact of communicable diseases,” mentioned the report.