Has There Been Callousness in Managing COVID During Elections? Looking at the Numbers

Courtesy: India TV

There has been a lot of criticism about the Election Commission's handling of the COVID pandemic. One would imply that the cases have exploded as a result of the electioneering in India. There is no logic behind this argument for a simple reason - this logic flies in the face of the fact that states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Punjab should not have been facing any outbreaks of the kind that are reeling under, given there are no elections there.

Even if one were to believe that logic, the numbers should have actually reflected the spike within a month's time. The reason behind the month's timeline is that the cases take at least a week to surface and another two to three weeks to be clear from the human system for the survivors and mildly affected people. Assuming that a person was affected within seven days of attending a rally or a roadshow, the numbers should start reflecting in the moving average. 

When one takes up the data for the three large states in consideration - Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal, it should be examined if the new cases added at every few intervals sees sharp spikes occurring at a particular period.

To make an assessment, case data for specific days during the election cycle, starting from February 2021 was picked up. While election campaigning was going on even before, January 2021 was witnessing an ebb of COVID numbers barring a few states. Case data was taken from official press releases and official dashboards of state governments where existent, and numbers specifically of the new cases added on those specific days were taken up.

Next, specific days were essentially identified with respect to large events of the Opposition parties to make sense. BJP events have not been picked up to ensure that bias accusations do not come forth. This helps maintain randomness of the exercise.




Given the seven day incubation period, it would have been ideal to take a seven period moving average. However, given the randomness of the data, it was considered that a three period moving average should be considered.

Given these factors, the following charts emerge for the three states:

Source of New Cases: https://dashboard.kerala.gov.in/daily.php 

Source of New Cases: https://stopcorona.tn.gov.in/daily-bulletin/

Source of Cases: https://www.wbhealth.gov.in/pages/corona/bulletin

When one looks at these, it shows no specific difference or spikes occuring at any stage; instead it shows a gradual increase occurring only in the later or last stage (depending on the state) of the elections. In fact, in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the case numbers blow up AFTER voting has concluded. 

If the logic given about COVID being caused during the elections was to hold true, the intensity of campaigning for the three states would have been peak during February. Instead, the ascent starts to happen only and in neither case do we see a sharp jump taking place after March ends. Even during the middle of March, we see no spikes taking place, raising doubts on what exactly is being touted.

Moreover, the trend is no different from the national picture. A grasp from the site Covid19India of the daily cases shows pretty much the same trend on a pan India basis, with 

Source: covid19india.org

Also, a presentation made today by the Government of India should put to rest about where the cases have emanated from truly.

Source: ANI

More details can be seen at the PIB briefing that gives detailed break up on the same, which can be viewed below.


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