The Moving Curve: Episode 50

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Every night on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one — are we any closer to understanding how widespread covid-19 is?

Catherine Offord’s piece in The Scientist on seroprevalence studies, especially the Santa Clara county one: https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/how-not-to-do-an-antibody-survey-for-sars-cov-2-67488

The New York seroprevalance surveys: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-23/new-york-finds-virus-marker-in-13-9-suggesting-wide-spread

Arunabh Saikia’s article for Scroll has revealed that the government has announced that it transferred the technology for the test to an Ahmedabad firm to mass produce without inviting any tenders or interest from any other parties https://scroll.in/article/961679/government-picks-gujarat-firm-as-partner-for-covid-antibody-kits-no-bids-invited-say-other-firms

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also announced a second sample survey which it called a facility-based survey: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/DistrictlevelFacilitybasedsurveillanceforCOVID19.pdf

The good news is that we should hopefully soon have data from two national sample surveys estimating the true prevalence of SARS-CoV2. The more worrisome part is this — during the pandemic, the government has not had a good track record of releasing timely data in a transparent manner. Let’s hope the numbers start coming out soon, and are shared with some level of detail and with everyone, not just friendly media. The more people have access to this data, the better the chance that we can all put our minds together and think of public health and public policy solutions.

Thanks 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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