The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has refuted the media claims that the Modi government did not consult experts before extending the nationwide lockdown till May 3 to contain the spread of Chinese coronavirus. In its report, Caravan Magazine claimed that the ICMR approved of usage of private labs for testing for coronavirus without consulting with the committee.
In its article titled “Modi administration did not consult ICMR-appointed COVID task force before key decisions”, writer Vidya Krishnan falsely claimed that many members of the COVID-19 Task Force are unaware of the decisions.
Quoting anonymous member of the COVID-19 Task Force, the Caravan Magazine claimed that the committee hadn’t met all of last week ahead of announcement of lockdown extension. Citing another nameless member of the Task Force, Caravan claims that the Task Force was also not kept in the loop of the developments.
However, the ICMR today took to Twitter to refute the falsehood spread in its name on coronavirus by Caravan Magazine.
The ICMR clarified that in last one month, the Task Force met 14 times and that all decisions taken involve the members of the Task Force. Speaking to OpIndia, Vinod Paul, NITI Aayog Member and Chairman of the Task Force, said, “India’s scientific and health experts are playing an important role in the fight against COVID-19. The task force is leveraging the best minds and playing a leading role in decision making. In addition, I’m regularly briefing the PM and getting his inputs. The attempts to invoke sensationalism and create fissures where none exists are unfortunate. Such efforts by a media outlet damage our national endeavour to fight this pandemic.”
There is a media report which makes false claims about the COVID-19 Task Force. The fact is that the task force met 14 times in the last month and all decisions taken involve the members of the task force. Please avoid such conjectures. #COVID2019india #IndiaFightsCorona— ICMR (@ICMRDELHI) April 15, 2020
Caravan Magazine, the habitual fake news peddler
This is not the first time Caravan Magazine has indulged in spreading falsehood regarding coronavirus which undermine the efforts of the government of India while spreading panic and fear at such testing times. In March, the online magazine tried to defame the government by maliciously claiming that India is trying to conceal the real situation the country while tackling the novel Coronavirus spread.
Even in this article, it was the same writer Vidya Krishnan who had resorted to spreading falsehood. Krishan falsely claimed that “at two separate press briefing held on Friday, both the health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research—also a government body—rejected the possibility of local transmission”. But that is a completely false claim, because the Indian Council of Medical Research has already stated that by March 14, 2020, India was already at stage 2 of transmission, which means local transmission.
After being pointed out by social media users, the Caravan Magazine had to update its report and changed the headline from “government maintains denial” to “government downplays it”. In the body also they replaced “rejected” with “downplayed”.
ICMR and Coronavirus
The Indian Council of Medical Research is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research and is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.
It is unfortunate that at a time when the nation is fighting a pandemic that has infected over 20 million people worldwide, the ‘journalists’ under the garb of ‘speaking truth to the power’ are resorting to blatant falsehoods to create mass anxiety.