10 Reasons Why You Must Not Trust India’s Coronavirus Data

Narendra Modi speaking about COVID-19 through video conference in New Delhi on March 24, 2020. Photo: PIB
Narendra Modi speaking about COVID-19 through video conference in New Delhi on March 24, 2020. Photo: PIB

The Indian government is hiding the actual coronavirus data which is extremely worrisome. Here are the 10 reasons which reveal that the government data is misleading and you should not trust it.

By Rakesh Raman

Recently, President Donald Trump said that the U.S. is not No. 1 in the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and the number of deaths as is being reported, but China has the maximum number of patients and fatalities.

Trump challenged the statistics being released by China saying that the most populous country of 1.4 billion people has unreported cases. Since China is a superpower which challenges the dominance of the U.S., Trump often compares his country’s performance with China.

However, an equally populated country India – which is an underdeveloped nation – usually escapes the criticism of the world leaders. In India, the Central as well as State governments are misleading the world by giving wrong data about the coronavirus cases and deaths.

India claims that as of April 27, the country had only 27,000 coronavirus cases and about 800 deaths. But this is absurd data which does not tell the truth. Independent research reports suggest that India will have around 1.3 million coronavirus cases by mid-May and the infection will eventually reach 20% of the population or nearly 300 million (30 crore) people. These are plausible figures.

Currently, according to the research, the actual number of coronavirus patients in India is nearly 1 million and thousands have probably died. The reports say that the number of COVID-19 patients in Ahmedabad city of Gujarat alone may touch 800,000 by the end of May.

Similarly, other states such as Bihar, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu have hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases and thousands of deaths which are not being reported truthfully.

The government is hiding the actual data which is extremely worrisome. Here are the 10 reasons which reveal that the government data is misleading and you should not trust it.

1. The Indian governments (Central and State) are not doing proper coronavirus tests. An estimated 200 tests per 1 million of population are being done in India. So, it is not possible to count the actual number of cases and deaths. There may be hundreds of thousands of patients who have not been tested and hence not counted.

2. As the Indian healthcare infrastructure is crumbling, the governments are not doing all types of tests: diagnostic, antibody, and nucleic acid tests. If all these tests are done, the actual number of cases will be far higher – in millions.

3. The government data does not include at-home coronavirus deaths, and many patients are not going to the hospitals for treatment because it is extremely difficult to get treatment in the dirty, overcrowded hospitals of India.

4. While only a small percentage of people are being tested and the testing facilities are bad, there are a number of false negative cases which are not being counted and reported by the Indian governments.

5. Government has not created any transparent platform to provide complete data about the methods to approach the infected people, methods to receive coronavirus complaints, number of people tested, testing methods, the state of quarantine facilities, criteria to declare hotspots, and so on. As the Central as well as State governments are taking ad hoc decisions, they cannot be trusted.

6. There is no practical program for contact tracing which is essential to test and count the number of coronavirus cases.

7. An estimated 300 million Indians live in slums where on average a family of 6 people share a room of about 10×10 sq. ft. Since social-distancing is not possible in these slums, millions of people are believed to be infected here. The coronavirus cases and deaths in slums are not being counted and reported.

8. Nearly 80% of cases are asymptomatic which are not being tested and counted. Mostly, the deaths in such cases take place at homes. Asymptomatic patients spread the virus silently among large populations. So, the actual number of coronavirus cases and deaths is much higher.

9. Although the government claims that thousands of coronavirus patients have recovered, the international health agencies suggest that there is hardly any evidence of recovery because the durability of recovery cannot be confirmed.

10. Since most politicians in India are crooks and bureaucrats are corrupt, they cannot be trusted.

Given these reasons, the Central as well as the State governments of India must speak the truth and share actual coronavirus data honestly and transparently.

If the Indian governments kept telling lies, India will have to face severe economic / trade consequences as the rest of the world will cut its trade relations with India to avoid the possibility of coronavirus contagion in other countries. Also, the existing investors will run away from India and new investors will not come here.

And if India really wants to tackle this disease, the government must put people before profits and continue the lockdown in every state for a couple of more months to save people. The decision to lift lockdown restrictions must be based on transparently revealed scientific data instead of political whims.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications and research reports on different subjects. These publications include the “Covid Health Bulletin” that covers global coronavirus news and views.

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