Network Structure of COVID-19 Spread and the Lacuna in India’s Testing Strategy

9 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2020

See all articles by Anand Sahasranaman

Anand Sahasranaman

Krea University ; Imperial College London

Nishanth Kumar

Independent Researcher

Date Written: March 21, 2020


We characterize the network of COVID-19 spread in India and find that the transmission rate is 0.43, with daily case growth driven by individuals who contracted the virus abroad. We explore the question of whether this represents exponentially decaying dynamics or is simply an artefact of India’s testing strategy. Testing has largely been limited to individuals travelling from high-risk countries and their immediate contacts, meaning that the network reflects positive identifications from a biased testing sample. Given generally low levels of testing and an almost complete absence of testing for community spread, there is significant risk that we may be missing out on the actual nature of outbreak. India still has an apparently low current caseload, with possibly a small window of time to act, and should therefore aggressively and systematically expand random testing for community spread, including for asymptomatic cases. This will help understand true transmission characteristics and plan appropriately for the immediate future.

Note: Funding: The authors did not receive any funding for this work.

Competing Interests Declaration: The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Keywords: COVID, India, network, spread, infection, SIR

Suggested Citation

Sahasranaman, Anand and Kumar, Nishanth, Network Structure of COVID-19 Spread and the Lacuna in India’s Testing Strategy (March 21, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Anand Sahasranaman (Contact Author)

Krea University ( email )

Andhra Pradesh

Imperial College London ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Nishanth Kumar

Independent Researcher ( email )

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