Episode 84: A Pandemic Bar For Evidence

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Twice a week on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one — how do we set a bar for evidence in an ongoing pandemic?

Here’s a little about Itolizumab.

Here’s a little about the BCG vaccine trial in India.

Here’s Dr Madhu Pai’s tweet thread on BCG.

Here’s the Indian government’s updated clinical management protocol.

Recommending as yet unproven therapies — as the government still official does in its clinical management protocol with hydroxychloroquine — or shrinking the time for approvals with the vaccine, or waiving phase III trials for itolizumab — these are all compromises to the process, and there’s no shame in admitting that. To find a vaccine or therapy that works during an ongoing pandemic is enormously difficult and governments might decide that they need to cut corners. But then they’ll need to own these edits they make to the process — and that means owning successes and failures, and engaging with questioning. Perhaps that’s the new bar for evidence in a pandemic.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Next week — a new question.

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