Splainer

Monday, June 8 2020

End this race war here in the US, and around the world. Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, NO ONE deserves to die, especially at the hands of another because of their skin color.

That was Priyanka Chopra trying to make a strong statement on George Floyd’s death. Sadly, it led to an immediate hazing from the Twitterati who reminded her of her inconvenient history—which includes many lucrative skin-lightening ads and—never forget!—that I-slept-with-a-black-guy moment in ‘Fashion’. Sometimes silence is the better of part of PR valour. In related news: Has anyone told Deepika about Epigamia? Illustration: Parth Savla

the big story

The great dilemma of unlocking India

The TLDR: India’s covid count is soaring, and we are facing a critical shortage of medical staff and hospital beds. Yet, today most of us will rush out the door, and get right back to business. WTF is going on? The short answer: The Indian government forgot that a lockdown only buys time—at a very high price—but it cannot buy us immunity. We explain where we went wrong, and took the off-ramp from the path of rationality.

 

First, tell me how bad it is

At 257,486, India is now the fifth worst-hit country in the world, having edged past Spain. We added 9,971 new cases yesterday. Our death toll is now 7,202—which is still low, but likely an underestimate. Given the severe backlog in testing, it is likely many Covid deaths have not been logged. 

 

Also misleading: our R number—or the rate of infection. 

  • Before the lockdown, our R number was 1.83—i.e. a 100 infected people were spreading the disease to 183 others on average. 
  • Now, our R number is 1.22. But that’s only because Maharashtra—which accounts for the greatest number of cases—has slowed the spread in recent weeks. 
  • However, other states are speeding up: Uttarakhand now has the highest R-value in the country: a sky-high 2! Assam is at 1.7, while Haryana is 1.9.

 

The main takeaway: National totals—be it for recovery rates or death counts—matter little in a country as vast as India. The vast backlog in testing and reporting test results suggests that the current count is way lower than in reality.

 

So the lockdown failed, right?

 

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In today’s edition

  • A global pandemic roundup
  • Livestream shopping is big in China
  • OMG, rotary phones are back!
  • David Warner is on a roll!
  • Forbes list of super-rich celebs
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