Even as India officially crossed the 1 million mark in total coronavirus cases on Friday, there is some more bad news for Indians.
A recent study published in Lancet has marked districts in Madhya Pradesh as the most vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by those in Bihar and Telangana.
The study has assessed several key indicators like housing, hygiene, and the health system in these states.
According to scientists, including Rajib Acharya from the Population Council, New Delhi, vulnerability in the research means the risk of consequences of infection, including spread, morbidity, mortality, and social and economic effects of the pandemic.
The study has noted that nine of 30 large states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Telangana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, and Gujarat -- have high vulnerability to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study has rated the vulnerabilities of the states to the pandemic on a scale from zero to one, measured using 15 indicators across five domains -- socioeconomic, demographic, housing and hygiene, epidemiological, and health system.
"Our index aims to help planners and policy makers effectively prioritise regions for resource allocation and adopt risk mitigation strategies for better preparedness and responses to the COVID-19 epidemic," the scientists, including Rajib Acharya from Population Council, New Delhi, note in the study.
The researchers have identified a number of vulnerable districts in India, which currently do not have large numbers of COVID-19 cases but could be strongly impacted by the pandemic.
According to them, these states also have high vulnerability with respect to most of the five domains.
Madhya Pradesh has an overall vulnerability score of one, with Sikkim on the other end with a score of zero, making it the least overall vulnerabality. Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh are two other states on the lower overall vulnerability end of the scale.
In terms of individual districts, Darbhanga in Bihar has an overall vulnerablity of 1.000 -- the highest -- followed by Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh, which has an overall score of 0.998. In fact, eight of the top 20 most vulnerable districts in India belong to Bihar. With six districts, Uttar Pradesh is second in the list.
"Although our intention was not to predict the risk of infection for a district or a state, we observed similarities between vulnerability and the current concentration of COVID-19 cases at the state level," they write in the study.
However, the researchers said this relationship was not clear for districts, adding that better data collection at this regional level can help make more refined evaluations of vulnerability in their respective states.
They also added that data used in the study are two to five years old and might not have captured vulnerability well in districts in which rapid changes have occurred up to the present day.
Rural Telangana vulnerable
Telangana, India's youngest state, is third in the list. The Lancet report has surfaced at a time when rural Telangana has been recording a notable spurt in the number of coronavirus cases since July 1, as reported by Deccan Chronicle in the recent past.
On Wednesday, too, rural areas outstripped Hyderabad city - and the rest of the GHMC limits - in the number of COVID-19 cases. Rest of the state, including some urban pockets, recorded 801 new cases, while the Hyderabad region only accounted for 796 cases....