The Moving Curve: Episode 4

Hello and welcome to Episode 4 of The Moving Curve, an end-of-the-day mini-podcast in which I consider one question each episode around the novel coronavirus in India. I’m Rukmini, a Chennai-based data journalist.

Episode 4 asks the question: why is India testing such few people?

India’s latest testing criteria: https://icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/upload_documents/2020-03-20_covid19_test_v3.pdf

South Korea’s drive-by tests: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/13/815441078/south-koreas-drive-through-testing-for-coronavirus-is-fast-and-free

Vo’s testing strategy: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/20/eradicated-coronavirus-mass-testing-covid-19-italy-vo

An early interview with an ICMR scientist that explained some of the govt’s thinking: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/coronavirus-icmr-senior-scientist-nivedita-gupta-have-1-5-lakh-test-kits-and-have-ordered-1-million-more-6317841/

Rema Nagarajan’s reporting on the problems with approvals for Indian-made kits: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-test-kits-may-be-non-starter/articleshow/74765890.cms

Arunabh Saikia’s report on the issues with testing: https://scroll.in/pulse/957380/testing-is-key-to-fighting-coronavirus-so-why-does-india-have-such-a-low-testing-rate

Tamil Nadu owning up to limited testing capacity: https://www.thelede.in/tamil-nadu/2020/03/23/why-indias-covid-19-numbers-are-misleading

So what should a government do, if they don’t want to be flooded, but must test more widely? One, they could start by being more honest and not holding on to the line that they aren’t testing more widely as there isn’t proof of community transmissions. Two, they should be clearing all bottlenecks in private testing as fast as they can and make testing free as many countries have. And finally, they’ve just got to take the plunge and expand testing.

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

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I am a data journalist based in Chennai, India.

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