The purpose of this article is two pronged; first, to identify and report public health implications of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and second, to report challenges uniquely faced by the citizens of India from a population health perspective. We have done both while closely examining epidemiological data that is accessible via SMAART’s RAPID Tracker. This policy informatics platform is a live database aimed to track the geospatial spread of the COVID-19 outbreak and policy actions globally and is administered collaboratively by CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and a global, non-profit public health incubator. Infectivity, incidence, and recovery rates were computed and graphical representations of epidemiological datasets were studied. We have discussed a plausible conceptual framework based on the principles of population health informatics for countries with similar characteristics to build a stronger public and community health foundation in order to safeguard populations during a health emergency in the future.
We are in the middle of the first global pandemic of the 21st century and as of December 17, 2020, 72,556,942 COVID-19 cases and 1,637,155 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported worldwide (1, 2). The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 (3). By January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency due to the virus’ rapid spread around the world (3). Figure 1 indicates a global spatiotemporal trend of COVID-19 since January 21, 2020 indicating the four countries with the highest caseload—the United States of America, India, Brazil, and the Russian Federation. The dotted lines are observed datasets, and exponential growth trends can be observed for all components of Figure 1, keeping in mind that outbreak statistics behave differently for national and worldwide levels. Looking closely at country-wise incidence, it is indicated that India’s total pandemic caseload as of December 17, 2020 was at 9,956,557 making it the second-highest in the world and exceeding that of Brazil as of September 7, 2020. When comparing the spatial and temporal trends of India to the rest of the world in Figure 1, the blazing question arises that even though India is China’s immediate over populated neighbor, why was this novel disease late in establishing a foothold in India? We will touch upon this epidemiologic concern in the Discussion section. The data also makes us ponder whether India will surpass the United States of America in recrudescence as it surpassed the Russian Federation on July 6, 2020 with 22,252 new cases as well as with Brazil on September 7, 2020 with 90,802 cases (1). What dynamic roles do India’s socio cultural characteristics play in making this a delayed hotspot? How is India prepared to face the burdens of this expanding pandemic? In this paper, we look at underlying factors that determine India’s status to tackle a pandemic and also generate informed discussions on some of the mind-tickling queries that can support and guide public health efforts in the region by analyzing epidemiological data accessed from SMAART (Sustainable, Multisector, Accessible, Affordable, Reimbursable, and Tailored) RAPID (Research-enabled Action-oriented Policy Interventions driven by Data) Tracker.