Great America

Why Is Desperately Poor India Beating New York’s COVID-19 Response?

For some reason, Andrew Cuomo and Anthony Fauci have become the faces of responsible COVID-19 policy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

New York spends more money per capita on healthcare than any other state in the Union. It ranks third in the country in physicians per 100,000 population at 375.1. In terms of raw infrastructure and medical resources, New York should have been one of the best places in the world to receive treatment for COVID-19.

Yet analysis of New York’s COVID-19 statistics reveal it to be one of the most deadly places in the world for a COVID-19 patient. Consider that the tiny country of San Marino reports the worst “deaths per 1 million population” for COVID-19 at 1,238 per million. Belgium, which is the second worst, reports 852. New York is a disaster compared to even those grim numbers. New York is second in the nation at 1,688 deaths per million. If it were a country, it would lead the world. 

The numbers don’t lie. New York should be the poster child of what not to do. Because whatever it’s doing to respond to COVID-19, it’s not saving lives. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci somehow learned the opposite lesson from these morbid statistics. He said, “Many parts of the United States didn’t do enough to combat the coronavirus—but New York state did . . . New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly by doing things [that are recommended to fight the disease].” One of those recommendations was to ban or severely restrict the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. This ban came quickly in response to President Trump endorsing the drug.

India, many warned, would become a humanitarian disaster. With a population density of over 75,000 people per square mile in Mumbai, for example, it triples the density of Manhattan, New York. India has only 0.9 doctors per 100,000 population. It spends only $69.29 per capita on healthcare. 

Indeed, India is now third in the world for recorded cases of COVID-19. But India is 126th in the world for tests per million so it’s reasonable to assume that the real infection rate in India is far higher than the 2.2 million cases it currently reports. While India has had 45,888 deaths attributed to COVID-19, greater than New York at 32,847, India’s deaths per million population is an astonishing 33 (compared to New York’s 1,688). New York reports a total of 451,025 cases and 32,847 deaths. India seems to have a much more favorable ratio of 2.2 million cases and 45,000 deaths. 

Again, if testing in India were more widespread, it would likely show an even more favorable ratio of infections to death. 

India has also approached the use of hydroxychloroquine differently. In June, the journal Nature warned that India was ignoring “safety concerns” over hydroxychloroquine. Noting a study in the Lancet, the journal warned, “that the drug offered no treatment benefit, and that people who took it were more likely to die than those who didn’t.” But the authors were forced to correct the Nature article when the authors of the Lancet study withdrew it after questions emerged about the data. 

Nature further warned, “Despite the lack of clear evidence that the drug is safe or protects people from coronavirus infection, on 22 May an Indian health ministry task force released the advice for front-line workers, including the police and people conducting door-to-door surveys to estimate the COVID-19 burden to take hydroxychloroquine to prevent infection. The advice expands on a similar recommendation, made in March, in which the task force said that health-care workers caring for people with COVID-19, and household contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19, should also take the drug.” 

In July, the Indian Express credited the widespread early intervention with hydroxychloroquine for reducing COVID-19 mortality by half. The authors wrote, “HCQ is obviously not a panacea for severe cases of Covid-19. Given early, it helps reduce mortality by about half, compared to those not given HCQ. In India the drug is widely available and not expensive. A number of Indian states have already incorporated a short course of HCQ in their Covid-19 treatment protocol, and states that have not done so will do well to implement this quickly.”

In the United States, the media vigorously combats accounts of hydroxychloroquine reducing COVID-19 mortality. As I wrote here, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube joined forces to censor American doctors who claimed to have observed positive outcomes from hydroxychloroquine. 

There remains a great deal of controversy over hydroxychloroquine. Nevertheless, it seems illogical to hold up New York—an undeniable failure—as a model to be imitated. With higher population density in its larger cities, fewer doctors, and less healthcare spending, India seems to be beating New York’s outcome for COVID-19. If hydroxychloroquine does not get the credit, then what does? 

For some reason, Cuomo and Fauci have become the faces of responsible COVID-19 policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both have advocated policies which seem to have made the pandemic worse in the areas that most faithfully followed their advice. The New York Times faulted Cuomo’s policy on sending COVID-19 positive patients back to nursing homes for 6,200 deaths. For Fauci to praise these actions causes one to also question his judgment.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has become another “get-Trump” project. Legacy media like CNN and MSNBC relentlessly terrify viewers with hyped stories of a murderous plague decimating the population. While the total U.S. deaths approaches 200,000, the disease continues to trail other causes of death in the United States such as heart disease, smoking, and abortion. If COVID-19 deaths top out at around 250,000, it will have been a fraction of the deaths from the 1918 Spanish Flu which claimed 675,000 Americans at a time when the U.S. population was much smaller. 

Trump derangement syndrome is silencing real scientific debate and glorifying bumbling autocrats at the expense of public health. There’s something behind India’s success when compared to New York’s failure. We need a fact-based approach, because public health is more important than the 2020 election.