Age is just a number. An old saying that has often worked like a balm on aging wounds. Soon, the world might start gearing for the new adage, COVID is just a number. For those who have been grossly affected by the pandemic, this may seem unnerving, but if wise people are to be believed, it may be the way forward.
Since its breakout in January 2020, COVID-19 cases have been registered and logged to stay tuned into the rise or fall in the viral cases. The first wave, second wave, and now, another wave has hit us all, either for real or in our minds, and following the numbers no longer proves beneficial.
In September 2020, Dr. Syed Raza from Bahrain dared to ask the crucial question in response to a British Medical Journal article.
"Every morning, new figures either bring about a sigh of relief or a new ray of hope or they become a cause for anger, frustration and hopelessness. But the real question is, should we really be counting and if yes, till how long?"
"Experts are increasingly concerned that these headline figures don't provide a clear picture of what's really happening in the pandemic—or how we should respond, such as with local lockdowns," read the article titled COVID-19: The Problems With Case Counting by Elisabeth Mahase.
While keeping a count of the infected cases agreeably supports medical analysis and the curbing measures thereon, public display of these numbers has also contributed towards creating paranoia and psychological concerns.
"After more than a year of obsessively tracking COVID-19 case numbers, epidemiologists are starting to shift focus to other measures as the next stage of the pandemic emerges," said an article published in The Print last month.
According to the report, around two dozen U.S. states have reduced how often they release COVID data. Florida now reports just once per week. In much of the world, however, health officials aren't taking their eyes off case numbers yet.
Recently, Singapore joined the wagon by deciding to roll out a new vision for dealing with the onward pandemic situation and not counting cases aggressively is one of their to-dos on the list.
"The bad news is that COVID-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it in our midst," stated Singapore's Trade Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, in an op-ed in the Straits Times last month.
Their viewpoints quoted in the article further read, "We can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza, hand, foot and mouth disease, or chickenpox, and get on with our lives."
A CNN article on Singapore's new stance mentioned that as more people get vaccinated, the way Singapore monitors daily COVID-19 infection numbers will change. Following a path similar to how it tracks influenza infections, Singapore will monitor those who fall seriously sick or how many are in intensive care units. Infected people will be allowed to recover at home.
Keeping a toll is taking a toll
According to Worldometers, India continues to be at the second position, out of nearly 220 countries, with the highest number of logged cases. However, there is a disparity in the numbers flashing on different websites. While MyGov.in shows 31,371,901, WHO data says 31,293,062. According to MyGov, the total number of recovered cases stands at 3,05,43,138, which should make the death toll as 8,28,763; however, the website shows the figure to be 4,20,551.
In the past, India has been criticized for under-showing its covid death numbers which is not surprising for a country with a high rural population and not sufficient means of addressing or recording caseload from such remote locations.
According to a Foreign Policy article, "The case fatality rate (in India) is a flawed indicator to begin with—and only makes sense in a country that's doing a half-decent job of counting its COVID-19 dead."
"The stark reality of India's data system is that all deaths are still not accounted for; they are estimated based on demographic surveys," pointed out another Hindustan Times report.