When the peripatetic novel coronavirus knocked on American shores, it afforded the US an excludable luxury in the time of any pandemic — the luxury of hindsight. The virus had manifested its biological character and course in China, and its genome had been mapped.
All knew it was unfamiliar, had no known treatment or therapeutic prevention. Only non-pharmacological interventions like quarantine, isolation and physical distancing helped in arresting its spread. Yet, the US went on to become the epicenter of the pandemic and suffered the highest death toll in a short span of time. On April 10, it had 30% of confirmed cases and 18% of COVID-19 deaths in the world.
Being the superpower, there was no dearth of intent, expertise or dollars to fight the pandemic. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the US was detected on January 21 in Washington state.
India, a lower middle-income country, saw the first case on January 30, 2020. India, with almost 430 percent of US population and just 14% of its GDP, saw far fewer infections and deaths. There are several learnings here, which are reciprocal and of mutual benefit. However, there is a major caveat to this analysis.
The US also experiences a significantly higher air traffic than India and containment would have always been hard comparably.
The reasons are as much cultural as these are political.
Let’s have a quick look at comparative charts for the two nations.