Majority of districts in Bihar, Bengal, MP, Gujarat ‘most vulnerable’ to COVID-19, claims study

Photo: Jyotirmoy Gupta/Maktoob

Most districts in Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, along with adjoining districts in Rajasthan and Maharashtra are more vulnerable to coronavirus pandemic, a research by Swasti, a Bangalore based not-for-profit public health organisation said on Wednesday.

The study has been conducted by Dipankar Bhattacharya and Dr Angela Chaudhuri with support from Ismail Haque, Doctoral Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Rhea John, Learning Catalyst at Swasti.

“While Indians widely recognise the risk factors that apply to individuals such as comorbidities and age, they have a limited understanding so far of other factors, at a community, demographic and/or environmental level, may result in higher risk of infection,” Swasti said in a statement.

Swasti was envisioned as an organisation to transform the lives of the marginalised communities by ensuring their access to quality healthcare.

High, Moderate and Low vulnerabilities

High-vulnerability districts are those where the virus is likely to spread rapidly, while also remaining undetected for longer periods.

The districts with higher vulnerability scores are typically characterized by poor socio-economic conditions, chronic poverty, and weak health systems.

Moderate vulnerability to the virus is seen in northern districts of Karnataka, eastern Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and eastern districts of Tamil Nadu.

Districts in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and most districts in the Northeastern states show relatively low vulnerability scores.

There are 15 indicators that affect the vulnerability of Covid-19 infection i.e. socio-economic factors like low income or education levels, demographic factors such as population density and urbanisation, health and hygiene variables like anaemia levels or practising handwashing, and environmental dimensions including temperature and relative humidity, the study by Swasti said.

“Post combating the scores of different variables, we arrived at a ‘Vulnerability Index’ score for each district. The vulnerability index highlights that there is a stark difference between the number of reported cases and the actual vulnerability of communities in these districts,” Dipankar Bhattacharya, Knowledge Catalyst at Swasti, said.

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