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Why in news?

Five States — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Tamil Nadu — account for about 70% of India’s confirmed COVID-19 cases – and these are also States that consistently accounted for the bulk of swine flu cases, or seasonal influenza (H1N1) since 2015.


  • Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Maharashtra accounted for 54 % of the confirmed H1N1 infections in 2019.
  • In 2018 again, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, made up 65% of H1N1 cases.
  • And now in 2020, these are the same states that take away a lion’s share of the COVID-19 cases.

Why are these states under the spotlight?

  • Migration for work is one probable explanation for the relative dominance of Gujarat and Maharashtra in influenza and COVID-19 trends.
  • They are both respiratory viruses that spread through contact and often true numbers of such viruses are never detected.
  • Population and Migration for work is NOT exactly the reason to be blamed at because: while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are among India’s most populous states and see intense migration to other states for work, they never featured among the top 5 states in terms of swine flu burden except for 2019 and 2017. Bihar has never recorded more than 50 cases of swine flu except in 2015.

Comparing COVID-19 and H1N1

  • While both HIN1 and COVID-19 are due to pathogens that trace their origins to viruses from non-human hosts, they belong to different families.
  • While both infiltrate the lungs and cause characteristic pulmonary infections, they have varying lethality.
  • Swine flu infections have a higher case fatality rates (deaths per confirmed cases) and can cause significant deaths in children as well as those less than 60.
  • COVID-19 on the other hand relatively more dangerous to those above 60 and almost harmless in children.

Diseases come in seasons?

  • February-March are typical months for influenza in India.
  • Most influenza activity in northern India was seen during the summer months, but in southern and western India, cases occurred mostly during winter months.
  • Given the novelty of Sars-CoV2, scientists cannot rule out another spike later in the year.
February 2024