General Thinking

COVID – What the numbers reveal

COVID is a virus that has affected 0.1% of the world population. It is highly contagious and has been able to circumnavigate the globe. 


On the surface – the above graphs make two things obvious :

  1. More people are being affected by COVID than before
  2. Fewer people are dying due to COVID than before

The spiking numbers during March were all the European countries reporting proper data and then taking proper steps. Made the Europeans looks like people with shit immunity and completely ill-prepared.

But there is more to the story than that. Authoritarian countries have for certain been misreporting case numbers. China for starters claims even today to have had 83,000 cases. 

The United States has 20 times as many and climbing. Even they did not scramble to build a hospital in 10 days! 

COVID and Politics

China most certainly had a much higher number of cases than reported – an order of magnitude higher – 20X / 30X / 50X what was reported. Which implies that both the graphs above are only partially accurate. The outbreak in Jan and Feb was much larger and even the deaths were more numerous.

Russia is currently passing off several COVID deaths as caused by other pre-existing conditions. This is important for Putin to be able to stay in power. In Pakistan, hospitals have ‘Full House’ boards outside of them denying patients entry. India is still dissuading testing if the symptoms are not very pronounced and Delhi has had patients turned away from hospitals because of their inability to accommodate them. 

Testing is not at the level it should be across the world. The US is leading at 25 million tests followed by Russia at 15 Million tests done. 

All Asian counties are Middle Eastern

UAE and Bahrain have tested more than 25% of their population! UK, Russia and Spain have tested 10% of their population while the USA and Italy have tested 7.5% of them. 

More generally the European countries have got a lot of testing done and this has resulted in the control that they have been able to have over the virus. 

I think more than New Zealand, UAE should be commended for the steps taken to curb the virus despite being a major transit destination with flight activity. A country not very well known for its science and one whose success is heavily attributed to a natural resource that they did nothing to acquire. 

More broadly, I think the Asian troubles are not over. 

Most of the larges Asian countries have not tested enough. They do not have the infrastructure to handle patients, hence even active cases might not find a healthcare facility to turn to. Also, a large number of poor means that their death may not even find a record until a long time has passed. In addition to this, political expediencies mean misreporting of numbers is rampant. Without a huge ramp-up in testing, the way out of this mess could be far away.

Asia will be the reason COVID will rise once again in the winter.

General Thinking

It is all testing stupid

I have been following the number for more than 1 month now. I have watched the numbers take off in several countries as CoronaVirus peaks havoc across the globe. There are countries like South Korea and Japan that have been able to fight the disease quite well and then Germany which has managed to keep death rate really low.

The number explain what is going on.

Check the number of tests out

The last two columns are the interesting piece of statistic in the image above. It may be illegible in which case you can visit this link.

Germany has been able to contain the spread of the virus and death rate through aggressive testing. 900,000 people tested. 10X the number of cases. Also, I believe that they have been able to test early and that has resulted in a lot of lives saved.

Similarly, South Korea undertook over 400,000 test with only 10,000 cases emerging. 40X the number of cases.

Testing in India

India Stats

What left me rather surprised is the fact that India seems to have conducted over 100,000 tests. 30X the number of cases detected so far. Per Capita, we probably need to undertake 100 times that number to match the per capita counts that some of the European countries have managed.

Having said that, starting early and making the test available as widely to as many people as possible is the key. I hope that we have the capacity to pull off as many tests.

Locking down the movement of people early on in the epidemic cycle was a good move. Providing the medical fraternity the freedom to consult online through telemedicine is a good move. There is a need to still make testing easily and widely available. This is a chink in our armour. I hope we get on top of it.

Learning by Proxy

COVID-19 and the changing world | Learning by Proxy

During a conversation a few weeks back, a friend suggested that I create a digest of things that one should be reading about. Since I read hundreds of blogs each day, it might be worth sharing some of the undercurrents that I notice.

So I am starting this series called ‘You need to know this’. I hope I don’t let this die away just like many other things that I have started in the past. So here goes the first one.

You need to know this – 4th April

COVID-19 Trends

There is a shortage in the CoronaVirus War supply chain. We were never prepped for this kind of response and that is becoming painfully obvious with each passing day. Governments are starting to request various companies to rework their factories to produce health equipment – the last time this was done was in 1942, World War II. How many genetic tests would have been run on a normal day? It is suddenly skyrocketed! Not only that, even medicines.

Also during this lockdown think about living in the absence of the Internet what would you do? This is exactly what the net neutrality debate was about. The calls to reclassify the internet as a public utility are growing in the US. I think it’s a public utility everywhere. But can they keep blocking the internet all over the world in authoritarian regimes then? It’s like cutting off the electricity to keep people in order.

People are sitting at home and watching a lot of TV. Also trading or getting into trading – Across the world. Zerodha saw the highest growth in sign-ups.

Health insurers are having a hard time – but car insurers? Nobody is driving around but they are all required to buy car insurance by law in most countries in the world. Car insurance companies are profiting a lot as claims drop off!

The poor people and the middle class are staying locked up at home by diktat. The rich on the other hand are taking their private jets to faraway lands. Is it right? You can see this on 

The one segment of the economy that we all have come to depend on heavily during these times is gig workers. The food delivery boys are still running around cities delivering food. Essentials are still being delivered, this is forcing a re-think about the classification of these workers. No worries so far as India is concerned, not for now at least.

People losing jobs in different places due to corona

The globalised supply chain is becoming more and more obvious. As Italy is ravaged with patients, garments workers who produced for Italian brands are losing their jobs in Bangladesh. One Million of them have lost their jobs.

One the subject of jobs. Do you know why the companies in the US are so rich? They take a 2 Trillion bailout for their government and then fire all their workers. 

Pollution reduction in the times of corona

The planet has probably been the greatest beneficiary of this crisis. Thousand Greta Thunberg’s could not have done what this one virus has done. Air traffic has ground to a halt completely. There is no movement of people in many of the large cities across the world. Industrial production is at its lowest. When we think pollution we do not think Italy – The video shows the precipitous decline. The same is true across the world.

Stimulus – Saving shareholders not employees

The USA released one of the largest stimulus packages that the world has ever seen and the businesses have gone ahead and fired their employees promptly both mentioned above. So the package was really about saving the shareholders and ensuring that their money is not lost, not about the workers. Oh, by the way, the airlines are standing with a bowl in hand. The same airlines which bought back shares worth 2 Billion dollars just a few months ago.

Japan on the other hand is giving away money to their people.

The Indian government was already struggling with lower tax collections and a slowing economy. They decided to increase the tax on oil despite the international price drop to ensure the government takes more from us.

Empty cities of the world

A lot of the cities are under lockdown across the World – Northern Italy, Spain, New York, All of India. This leaves these cities empty and they look like something you would have never seen.


What VCs think startups should do

Is the coming generation going to be called GenC, Seth Godin makes a point.

And Finally, America has become the world leader in CoronaVirus cases in a very short time overtaking everyone. New cases are being added at a rate of 30000 per day, more than certain countries have in total. The death rate has spiralled to over 1000 a day. And leadership has been exemplar. Trump is the worst person to be handling this situation. This will send shockwaves through the global economy because America happens to be the largest economy in the world. I don’t know how long we will continue to say that though.

Signing off.