New Study Finds Disparity In Covid-19 Reporting In Indian States and UTs

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New Delhi: A new study conducted by researchers from Stanford University has found disparity in Coronavirus case reporting by states and union territories.

Today is the 126th day since India implemented a nationwide lockdown, to help curb the novel coronavirus pandemic.

So far, India has recorded 14,35,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 32,771 deaths.

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Gujarat have reported the highest number of cases.

However, infections are rising rapidly in states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Yet, India’s recovery rate continues to rise and now stands at 63.9 percent.

Globally, there have been over 1.6 crore confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 6.4 lakh people have died so far.

According to a Covid-19 data reporting index created by the researchers found Karnataka as besting reporting the Covid-19 cases while the worst has been by Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

The study is not yet peer-reviewed and has been published as a preprint in medRxiv on 21 July.

Researchers ranked the states according to its availability, accessibility, granularity, and privacy.

This framework was used to calculate a Covid-19 Data Reporting Score (CDRS) for 29 states during a two-week period — from 19 May to 1 June. CDRS ranged from 0 (lowest) to 1 (highest).

Researchers found that the CDRS varied from 0.61 (good) in Karnataka to 0.0 (poor) in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Overall, the quality of Covid-19 reporting in India was only 0.26, which showed poor reporting across the country.

States that reported less than 10 total confirmed cases as of 18 May were excluded from the study.

Each state reported the first case at least a month before they were studied, which means they had at least a month’s time to do an assessment to build a high-quality data reporting system.

Among those top 10 states, Tamil Nadu is the only state with a high CDRS at 0.51, the study found.

“This suggests that states with the highest number of cases also tend to have poor Covid-19 data reporting, which could further exacerbate the pandemic challenges,” wrote the researchers.

The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) referral form for Covid-19 requires health workers to record data on age, gender, district, and comorbidities.

Yet the study found 10 states that did not report any data divided by age, gender, comorbidities or districts.

District-level data keep the people informed about the gravity of the situation in their neighbourhood and can help them identify how

The study found only 10 states provided a visual representation of the trend in Covid-19. Assam and Gujarat gave only the total number of cases, while Kerala gave total cases and the Covid trends too.

A graphical representation of the information makes it more interpretable and accessible to the general people.

In addition, the researchers found that Punjab and Chandigarh compromised the privacy of individuals, who were under quarantine, by releasing their personal information on official websites.

Best and worst states for Covid-19 reporting

The best reporting was by Karnataka (0.61), followed by Kerala (0.52), Odisha (0.51), Puducherry (0.51), and Tamil Nadu (0.51).

Uttar Pradesh (0.0), Bihar (0.0), Meghalaya (0.13), Himachal Pradesh (0.13), and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (0.17) scored the lowest in Covid reporting.

The top 5 states in CDRS provided a dashboard that showed the trend of Covid-19 data graphically and also provided district-wise stratification of the total confirmed, recovered, and deaths. However, none of them stratified the data according to age, gender, comorbidities — all factors that impact the death rate.

Among the states with the lowest CDRS score, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, did not publish any Covid data on their government or health department websites.

Bihar released data only on Twitter, which is not an accessible or reliable method of disseminating information.

Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands reported only the total count, but did not report the daily count, trend graphics and granular data.

Researchers also found a correlation between the states’ performance on sustainable development goals (SDG) for health and well-being that includes maternal mortality and availability of health workers, and the Covid-19 health reporting data. Those doing better in SDGs tended to do better in Covid-19 reporting too, the study found.

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