India avoided 37 lakh COVID cases, 1 lakh deaths due to its response strategy: CEA Subramanian

NEW DELHI: Chief Economic Advisor Dr K Subramanian on Friday said India’s COVID-19 response strategy helped the country to prevent 37 lakh cases and 1 lakh deaths.

Addressing a press conference on Economic Survey 2020-21, Subramanian said India’s COVID-19 response was guided by research, epidemiology and economics.

“The first chapter in the economic survey in volume I is about India’s policy response saving lives and livelihood amidst once in a century crisis. India’s response was guided by research and epidemiology and economics…The early intense lockdown not only saves more human lives but also enables a quicker and better economic recovery,” he said.

“According to survey estimation, India avoided 37 lakh cases and about 1 lakh deaths to the strategy the country adopted. Maharashtra is under performer both in cases and in deaths. In cases, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Bihar are over performers while in deaths Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are over performers,” he added.

The CEA said this year’s economic survey is dedicated to all COVID-19 warriors who have really helped in upholding India.

“If you see the cover of the economic survey, we have COVID warriors joining hands to uphold India. Doctors, nurses, scientists who have helped in developing the vaccine in record time, sanitation workers and others,” he said.

“This year’s survey is dedicated to COVID warriors; it’s about saving lives and livelihood. In this year of adversity when once in a century pandemic has hit us, India outweighed the opportunities that this pandemic provides,” he said.

Subramanian likened India’s economic recovery to the Indian cricket team’s recent victory against Australia.

“The cover also captures the V-shaped recovery that has happened in the economy. In fact, it mirrors V-shape performance that the Indian cricket team delivered in Australia well after being short out for 36 in an hour, they went on to win the series. The resilience of the Indian economy is mirroring the resilience of Indian cricket team as well,” he said.

The CEA said the COVID-19 pandemic would have created a significant economic impact even without lockdown.

“But what the lockdown did ensure is help a coordinated response, enabling ‘saving lives and livelihoods… Strong correlation of lockdown with decline in cases and deaths is found across states, not just within a few states. Hence Economic Survey infers that lockdown had a causal effect on saving lives and livelihoods,” he said.

“During high uncertainty, policy should minimize large losses. India’s policy response to COVID-19 was guided by the realization that GDP growth will come back, but not lost human lives. Early intense lockdown saved lives, helped faster recovery,” he said.

Speaking further, the CEA said: “To summarise the policy response, India came up with was a mature, farsighted one. India focused on saving lives and livelihoods, took short term pain for long term gain, recognised while GDP growth will recover like it has, lost human lives cannot be brought back. This was the humane principle that guided India’s policy response. India was the only country to announce a slew of structural reforms.”

According to the Economic Survey, the lockdown had a “causal” impact on saving lives and the economic recovery.

“India thus benefited from successfully pushing the peak of the pandemic curve to September, 2020 through the lockdown. After this peak, India has been unique in experiencing declining daily cases despite increasing mobility,” it said.