COVID-19: Euthanise beast of exaggeration

The daily numerology of Covid-19 statistics being injected into the public domain has become the manual of dissimulation.

Published: 05th July 2020 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th July 2020 07:54 AM   |  A+A-

Coronavirus, CO

A man wearing a designer face mask is seen on a city street during Unlock 1.0 in Kolkata. (Photo | PTI)

Exaggeration reflects desperation. In times of pestilence and death, governments are using the legerdemain of numbers to numb the conscience of a gullible populace.

The health and wealth of both individuals and nations are being measured in numbers. A manipulated model using selective juggling of data is being frequently used by state and corporates to influence markets and policies.

The daily numerology of Covid-19 statistics being injected into the public domain has become the manual of dissimulation.

It’s dangerously dictating and defining the course and contours of public healthcare and financial architecture to revive a doomed world economy.

The cozenage of data entails a mythical abacus to calculate a cumulative number that includes imaginary figures.

Ever since the cure-defying Coronavirus started to haunt humanity, global number crunchers have made it a point to paint a picture of a pandemic whose miasma is predestined.

Instead of projecting the growing power of people to fight and recover, the sultans of stats have been hyping the Covid-19 numerical nemesis.

Purveyors of pandemic panic calculate that the virus has affected over 11 million people all over the world. Technically, it’s true.

However, the reality is that there are only 4.3 million active cases on an earth populated by over 7 billion people.

Over 65 per cent of patients have recovered. Since January, TB, HIV and cancer have affected ten times more patients without leading to a global lockdown. The intensity of Covid-19’s spread is confined to a few cities and fewer nations.

It has prowled through 213 countries but over 80 per cent of active cases are only in a dozen-odd European countries, North America and parts of South Asia. The Americans are defining the nasty narrative.

The US media rarely gives prominence to the total number of recovered victims, which is almost 55 per cent of the total.

The politics of Coronavirus is dominating the nature of reporting in the initial months of Trump’s presidential election campaign.

Well-educated and financed opinion makers are following their international mentors. It’s strange that there is a little concern about the medical research papers that foresaw over 1.5 million cancer cases in 2020. Over six lakh people have died of cancer.

Tuberculosis has claimed over 30 million people since 1993 when WHO declared it a global disease.

India is perhaps the worst victim of the scenario of exaggeration. During the past 100 days in a nation of 1.30 billion divided by 36 states and Union Territories, there are barely 6.25 lakh Coronavirus patients. During the same period over 60 per cent have fully recovered.

The entire country has less than 2.50 lakh live cases. While every sixth human being lives in India, only one out of 20 live cases exist here.

But Covid Catastrophe Cassandras have created the impression that the germ is swallowing the entire nation. Primetime anchors scream about a hike in new cases but rarely play up the daily improvement in the recovery rate.

The media never analyses the shrinking geographical impact of the virus. Over 75 per cent of active cases are confined to just five states and a dozen cities. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that account for over 20 per cent of the population have less than 10,000 cases put together.

The high decibels of noise from the media and opinion makers have forced the states and the Centre to limit economic activities and spend energy and money on creating massive infrastructure to meet a possible Covid-19 spurt.

“In a worst-case scenario, according to one estimate at least, we may end up with 2.2 million cases in India by May 15, which implies that we will need 110,000 to 220,000 ventilators,” an American funded think tank had predicted in March. Similarly, others predicted 20 million cases by August. Both the states and New Delhi took such cavalier calculations seriously.

According to published reports over 4 lakh isolation beds have already been arranged, which is nearly twice the number of active cases. States are competing to take over sports complexes, banquet halls, hotels and even vacating buildings to set up Covid-19 facilities.

In fact, news papers reported in Delhi alone, over 9,000 beds are lying vacant. Yet, the government is going to add 15,000 more during the next couple of weeks. Liberal concessions are being given to manufacture masks, ventilators and PPEs.

Actually the number of brands of masks and sanitisers etc are more than the number of active Covid cases in many cities.

Masks have become not a tool for prevention but a fashion statement. However, Coronaphobics refuse to debate the long-lasting damage of other curable diseases.

Forget stratospheric infant mortality, about 2.50 lakh individuals are estimated to succumb to cancer by 2020. According to official reports, India has over 2.6 million TB patients.

Over 4.40 lakh of them died last year. But there is no concern about resources and policy to contain its recurrence. Even Ebola and Swine flu hasn’t invited such huge investments of human capital and assets.

Covid has created fear in the minds of the high and middle classes the most, pressuring the administration to act in a lopsided manner.

It paralysed the economy by forcing migrants to move from cities to villages and look for alternate jobs. For almost three months, cinema halls, malls, restaurants, wholesale markets, transport, construction, handicraft sectors, airports and railways were non-functional.

The month of May marked the first time in India’s history when not even a single car was sold. Both the government and market players gloated over GST collection of around Rs 90,000 crore in June.

But they didn’t bother to take in account that it was just outstanding payment for April and May. A massive erosion of government revenues would further weaken its plans to revive the ailing system. In the credible endeavour to save lives, millions have lost their livelihood.

Since the consensus among medical experts is that we have to learn to live with Covid for the rest of our lives, the time has come to ignore the nonsense of numbers.

Instead of imposing lockdowns and repressive restrictions on the movement of people, stringent enforcement of Covid protocols would yield quicker results.

Instead of spending too much time on setting up facilities, which provide attractive visuals for newspapers and TV channels, lawmakers should enforce wearing masks, social distancing and better hygiene across the country. India is income challenged.

But Indians have exceptionally high immunity and resilience. The Western model of affluence-generation through inflated numbers has failed.

As the nation chooses a Swasth Atmanirbhar Bharat, it should euthanise the beast of exaggeration that weakens the resolve to fight and win. Don’t allow vicious numbers to do a number on people. Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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  • Shalini Govil

    1 month ago reply
  • Badri narayanan poondi

    perfect argument; I ve heard many citizens say so. Only Active cases to be reported excluding the recovered cases
    1 month ago reply
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