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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Notwithstanding Odisha government going gung-ho over the Ganjam Covid-19 management model to showcase how skilfully the State had controlled the novel Coronavirus pandemic in the State, the bitter home-truth is that Odisha has been ranked lower than the North-eastern states, including Assam, Bihar and UP in the management of Covid-19 pandemic across states in the country.

This reality check report has come from none other than the country’s reputed and leading research agency – State Bank of India (SBI) Research Cell.

“The ranking of the states have been formulated after considering the three critical factors like: gap between the numbers of actual covid-19 cases vis-à-vis estimated, estimated number of under reporting of cases considering peak recovery rate of 78 per cent for each State and, finally, the rate of recovery and death rate,” Tushar Kanti Ghosh, Chief Economic Adviser, SBI, told odishatv.in.

He further explained that a State was assigned a lower rank when the gap between actual and estimated Covid-19 cases is higher; the cases of underreporting are higher; had a higher recovery rate and lower death rate.

As per the SBI Covid-19 management ranking, Odisha figured high at number 4 in the country, but the State has ceded ground to north-eastern states, including Assam, and north Indian states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

The argument that the north-eastern states, including Assam, managed the novel pandemic in a better way than Odisha, because of their small population size cuts no ice here. Because, Bihar and UP, where the size of the population is almost over 3-5 times, had fared better than Odisha in covid-19 management.

Observers say there lies a scope for a tad better Covid-19 management for the State, and Odisha government needn’t switch on to the complacent mode.

Are Covid-19 Cases Underreported In Odisha?

When the State was witnessing the peak in Covid-19 cases in September, social media then in the State was abuzz with eruptive contents, where scores of dissatisfied and distressed relatives of patients who succumbed to Covid-19 had openly vented their ire against the State government for what they called under-reporting of covid-19 deaths.

Following the large-scale outcry, the Odisha government decided to form district level committees to review the issue.

However, the SBI ranking report very clearly hinted at some level of underreporting of Covid-19 cases in Odisha, prompting the reputed research agency to put Odisha at number 4. The worthy mention here is as per the lead author of the report Tushar Kanti Ghosh, the lower the underreporting; the higher has been the rank. The fact that Odisha has finished lower than the north east, Bihar and UP very clearly shows that the State had some amount of underreporting - at least in reporting the Covid-19 deaths.

Actual Covid Count Vs Estimated Cases

As per the SBI report, based on its two-stage least square (SLS) panel model, where the authors first regressed the state-wise test data on population to gauge the exact number of tests that should have been done given the population difference across states, and then, in second stage the cases were regressed on such estimated test numbers, which has then been extended to November 20.

The regression model data then revealed that while the estimated confirmed cases for India has been calculated at 99.29 lakh, the actual confirmed cases in the country in November stood at 94.63 lakh, which is 4.66 lakh lower than the estimated cases. Therefore, the country has managed the pandemic well, inferred the report.

On Odisha

The SLS model after considering the peak period stage had estimated that by November Odisha could have over 4.03 lakh positive cases. But the actual confirmed cases stood at 3.18 lakh by that month. This shows the gap between actual and estimated leads to a negative value of (-85,119). So, the State has managed the pandemic well, observed the report.

Why Then The State Fared Lower In Rank?

North-east states, Bihar have a Covid-19 mortality rate of 0.5 per cent in November, so too Odisha had. In recovery rate, Odisha and Bihar had a figure of 97 per cent in November, while in north east; the rate was around 98 per cent.

However, Odisha’s mortality rate is lower compared to UP’s 1.4 per cent. In recovery rate too, UP had 95 per cent in November vis-à-vis 97 per cent in Odisha, still, UP ranked higher than Odisha.

How?

The big reason: A cursory glance at the report shows the gap, comparatively, between actual and estimated confirmed cases in north-east, Bihar and UP was quite higher than Odisha. When north –east could record over 1.69 lakh less cases vis-à-vis Odisha’s 85k, UP and Bihar were able to record a whopping around 7.4 lakh Covid-19 less cases by November end.

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