Coronavirus is not a death sentence

Let us not despair. This is not and will not be our worst nightmare. But let us continue to dream and let us find a little hope for tomorrow.

It is now over 60 days since India has gone into lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus covid-19. However, the number of positive cases in the country has been rising and so has been the number of deaths while we keep a watch of it in trepidation.

Coronavirus is a highly contagious virus, which nature and behavior is being studied. In countries like the US, Italy, Spain, UK, Germany, it is often the elderly population who has the highest mortality rate from coronavirus. For instance, according to the data provided by the National Center for Health Statistics

(NCHS) of the United States, as of May 16, 2020, out of the 16,508 total deaths in the New York City alone, 12,248 deaths (about 74%) were among people above the age of 65. However, in India it was reported recently that the percentage of death of people below the age of 50 had increased. This is not a good outlook. It suggests that India has some bad weeks ahead.

Now, let’s try to get a simple perspective on the fatality rate in India. If a person is infected, what is the probability that he will die from the coronavirus? Here, I shall make a simple probability calculation (and this does not take into account age, pre-existing conditions, gender, etc.) in a hope to show that we don’t really have to live cowering in fear.

First, let’s be clear: coronavirus is not a death sentence.

As of this writing (May 26, 2020), according to the website mygov.in/covid-19 there are current 80,722 active cases, 60,490 discharged and 4,167 deaths from corona covid-19. Yes, you saw the number there: 60,490 discharged. It shows that you are significantly more likely to recover than to die from the virus.

And let’s also remember a simple fact:

First, you have to be infected before the possibility of recovering or dying. If you are not infected, there is no recovering and there is no dying.

A simple definition of probability due to Laplace says that the probability of the occurrence of the event A, say P(A), is the ratio of the number of outcomes favorable to A to that of the total number of possible outcomes. i.e.

We have, number of deaths at 4167 and the total number of people infected: 1,50,000 (approximate). Then, we can calculate the probability of an infected person to die from the coronavirus.

For a perspective on this probability, let’s consider a light-hearted example. Recall the last time you played Ludo. How was your luck at getting the number 6 so that you could start moving out your token from your yard to the starting square? Sometimes, you just can’t get it even after employing all of the rolling techniques up your sleeves much to your chagrin and much to the delight of your opponents inching closer to “home”, isn’t it? Now, level up and take two dice. Roll the two dice together at once and try to get the number 6 simultaneously on both dice.

The probability of getting the number 6 simultaneously on both dice is  (Kindly, note that this is not the same as getting any pair of numbers. The probability of getting any pair of numbers is).  This probalility of close to the probability of the infected person dying from the coronavirus (which is about 0.02778 as calculated above).

So, take two dice and roll them out on your floor to determine the fate of your life. No. That’s a jest. But, you can try and see for yourself how difficult it is to get a double 6. Yes, we wish that the probability could be even lower and be zero.

Yes, every death is a tragedy. But, my friend, you are still alive. Are you afraid of getting the coronavirus? Have you come home from other states with high coronavirus cases? Have you tested positive for coronavirus?

Don’t be afraid. Take heart. You have high chances to recover. You will get well, and you will live your normal life again. We will recover. When we are through with this, I believe that we will all be stronger than ever.

Let us not despair. This is not and will not be our worst nightmare. But let us continue to dream and let us find a little hope for tomorrow. This little hope in our hearts, let it inspires us to be a little braver; and let this little inspiration makes our life a little more cheerful. And may this little cheerfulness light up the dark corners and the dreary places we seem to have been tossed into and may it show us the way forward.

(The views expressed is personal)

First Published:May 26, 2020, 8:12 p.m.

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