516/2020 Minu Philip, Debraj Ray and S. Subramanian
India’s case fatality rate (CFR) under covid-19 is strikingly low, with a current level of around 1.7%. The world average rate is far higher. Several observers have noted that this difference is at least partly due to India’s younger age distribution. We use age-specific fatality rates from 17 comparison countries, coupled with India’s distribution of covid-19 cases, to “predict" India’s CFR. In most cases, those predictions yield even lower numbers, suggesting that India’s CFR is, if anything, too high rather than too low. We supplement the analysis with a decomposition exercise, and we additionally account for time lags between case incidence and death for a more relevant perspective under a growing pandemic. Our exercise underscores the importance of careful measurement and interpretation of the data, and emphasizes the dangers of a misplaced complacency that could arise from an exclusive concern with aggregate statistics such as the CFR.
Culture and Development