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.