In the last few days, one epidemiologist, who actually has a doctorate in economist, is being interviewed by almost all leftist media organizations. And why all leftist media organizations are rushing over him? Because he, Ramanan Laxminarayan, predicts that India could have around 30 crore cases of COVID-19 disease, and in the worst-case scenario 60 per cent of the country’s population, that is around 80 crore people, could be affected, based on mathematical modelling.
Predictions based on mathematical modelling is the most stupid thing to do when dealing with a health crisis, as every country, in fact, every individual has very different biology. Such gross generalization, based on mathematical modelling, could only be expected from an economist with zero understanding of biology.
Mr Laxminarayan, who is Vice-President for Research and Policy at the Public Health Foundation of India, was first interviewed by Karan Thapar for TheWire. In the interview, Ramanan made many sensational claims like India probably entered stage 3 two or three weeks ago; while ICMR already cleared a few days ago that India has not entered in stage III in a press conference.
Apart from this, Ramanan also argued that given the kind of response by the government, like closing down the public transport, malls, and cinema halls, it could be predicted that India public officials knows that the country is at stage III but no ready to admit it.
After the sensational claims of Ramanan, the leftist media portals rushed over to interview him. Barkha Dutt, who now runs a digital portal called Mojo, interviewed Ramanan and argued that the government should take his claims seriously.
"If PM Modi believed official #Corona data he wouldn't have drawn a world war analogy"- Ramanan Laxminarayan on #Mojo arguing 300-500 million Indians will test positive by July without drastic measures. He calls for ventilators on war footing. Full intvw: https://t.co/uPGGsEATE1
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) March 22, 2020
If all leftist portals have already started fear-mongering, how the leader of the cabal, which claims to be fastest, could be left behind? Rahul Kanwal from India Today also rushed to interview Ramanan. In the interview with India Today, Ramanan claimed that “The problem here is that the ten million severe infections will all happen within a two or three-week window, and will require a lot of intensive care — and we don’t have the systems to handle that much in a short period of time.”
On the rush to interview one ‘expert’ who making sensational claims by Indian media, Ashok Malik, who is policy advisor with Ministry of External Affairs, tweed, “Why is everybody in the Indian media interviewing the same epidemiologist? Surely there must be others.”
Why is everybody in the Indian media interviewing the same epidemiologist? 🤔 Surely there must be others
— Ashok Malik (@MalikAshok) March 22, 2020
On Ashok Malik’s tweet, many economists and common users ridiculed the Indian media and the expertise of Ramanan.
“Probably because epidemiologists are less cock sure. It takes a certain kind of economics training to have firm belief in models,” replied Dr Bibek Debroy, chairman of PM-EAC, and one of the most respected public policy experts of the country.
Pitched as an epidemiologist, or a medical professional, Dr. Ramanan has been found to be a PhD in economics. Dr Ramanan, who is Senior Research Scholar and Lecturer at Princeton Environmental Institute and Director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington DC, with very little experience in India’s public health sector and spend little time in India, made ridiculous and unbelievable claims, based on mathematical modelling.
He argued that India should be prepared for 2-2.5 million deaths in the worst-case scenario and 1 million deaths in the best-case scenario. He repeated the claim that India is testing less number of cases and argued that if the United Kingdom can accept that they underestimated the cases by a factor of 12, India has also underestimated cases by same factor or even large than that.
Dr Ramanan has no skin in the game, as he is at best, an economist who spend the majority of time in the United States. But his fear-mongering could create havoc and panic among the people of the country. And Indian media is not just giving space to him, but also running his claims as ‘Breaking News’.
India media has been known for sensationalism for decades, but at a time when the world is facing worst public health crisis of modern age- A little sanity was expected. But the leftist portals have stick to the agenda and fear-mongering in the case of Coronavirus too. To attract more eyeballs, media organisations exaggerate everything and make sensational headlines. The print medium is relatively better but few websites and almost all the television channels are more of Ekta Kapoor serials than being platforms for sensible coverage and informative reporting.
Indian media exaggerates every issue and the TV shows lack mature content. The Prime Time shows on TV give a sense that the world will fall apart on just the other day. The media needs to behave more responsibly, at least on the matters of public health crisis such as Corona.