Telangana had an overall vulnerability index of 0.943, the third-highest in the country, trailing behind Madhya Pradesh at 1 and Bihar with 0.971.

Four frontline workers wearing PPE kits stand in the foreground looking at the camera. In the background, two more people are seen with their faces covered amid the coroanvirus pandemic in IndiaImage for representation: PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Friday, July 17, 2020 - 16:44

The state of Telangana fares poorly when it comes to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and this could make its citizens more vulnerable, a study published in medical journal Lancet suggests. 

The study, titled, 'A vulnerability index for the management of and response to the COVID-19 epidemic in India', aimed to come up with a 'vulnerability index' for identifying vulnerable regions in India on the basis of population and infrastructural characteristics. The study looked at five factors while deciding the vulnerability of a region -- socioeconomic vulnerability, demographic vulnerability, vulnerability due to housing and hygiene conditions, vulnerability due to non-availability of health care and epidemiological vulnerability.

According to the study, Telangana had an overall vulnerability index of 0.943, the third-highest in the country, trailing behind Madhya Pradesh at 1 and Bihar with 0.971.

The Telangana government has drawn flak from civil society, opposition parties and the High Court in Hyderabad for its poor coronavirus testing numbers and lack of transparency while tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. It was only recently that the state increased testing after pressure from all quarters, after testing only a few hundred samples each day for weeks. 

Critics say that this too, has been too little done too late, and accuse the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao-led government of negligence of duty.

"A number of districts in nine large states — Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, and Gujarat — located in every region of the country except the northeast, were found to have high overall vulnerability," the study said in its findings.

"Vulnerability in the present context is a dynamic concept — a person or a group might not be vulnerable at the beginning of the pandemic, but could subsequently become vulnerable depending on the government response," the study added. "Beyond the groups who are epidemiologically vulnerable to COVID-19 (eg, older people and individuals with comorbidities), there might be people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds who are vulnerable as they struggle to cope with the crisis in various ways; financially, mentally, or even physically.”

Among the other southern states, Andhra Pradesh's overall vulnerability was pegged at 0.714 followed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka at 0.571. Kerala had the best score at 0.314. Overall, in India, Sikkim was the state which was said to be the least-vulnerable to the pandemic.

"In conclusion, the vulnerability indices reported in this study are intended to spatially identify vulnerable regions in India according to five different domains of vulnerability and help the community prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the epidemic," the study said.