The Moving Curve: Episode 9

Hello and welcome to Episode 9 of The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, and I’m a data journalist. Every night on this 5-minute podcast I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m asking the question: is the Indian government telling us everything that we need to know?

I understand the govt’s reasoning for why they started slow with testing: https://medium.com/@rukminiwrites/the-moving-curve-episode-4-4deae49f62bc

I don’t believe that the government is hiding or fudging the numbers, as I said in Episode 3: https://medium.com/@rukminiwrites/the-moving-curve-episode-3-196c7b18bebf

We have no useful detail about the random testing in viral pneumonia patients that the ICMR says that it is doing, and which it considers an important way to determine if we are at the community transmission stage that I spoke of in Episode 6: https://medium.com/@rukminiwrites/the-moving-curve-episode-6-9a897076577c

NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain and Arvind Gunasekar’s investigation on why PPE for doctors is delayed: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-behind-indias-shortage-of-safety-wear-for-fighting-covid-19-delays-clutch-of-small-firms-2204278?pfrom=home-topstories

Scroll executive editor Supriya Sharma’s Twitter thread on testing kits: https://twitter.com/sharmasupriya/status/1244916259008868353

The ICMR said yesterday that their advice to doctors to use hydroxychloroquine as a preventive drug was a demonstration study, before they recommend it to the public: https://twitter.com/avstmd/status/1245304803841830912

Routine health services in most states stand severely curtailed: https://scroll.in/article/957108/how-do-i-reach-a-hospital-cancer-patients-ask-as-21-day-lockdown-looms-ahead

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/covid-19-we-will-write-to-states-to-resume-immunisation-says-centre-70139

The government argued before the Supreme Court this week that the media should have to run every piece on coronavirus past the government, pre-publication, but the Supreme Court turned that part down: https://cpj.org/2020/03/indian-supreme-court-denies-government-request-for.php

This is hardly the time to engage in a government-media stand-off, but it’s also not the time to become less transparent. My sense from the government’s messaging is that they are keen to put out only as much information as they think the public can handle at this time. They’re also still coming to terms with a truly extraordinary situation. I understand this — but the best way to truly get the country in board is to take people into confidence. We’re not looking for a fight — we’re just looking for answers.

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

I am a data journalist based in Chennai, India.