Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic had hit the world last year, there has been a concerted campaign by the left-liberal intelligentsia in the country to discredit India’s effective handling of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. In an effort to undermine the country’s efforts in tackling the pandemic, the left-liberal media often comes up with dubious research to imagine higher deaths in the country. In continuing to do so, the far-left news website ‘The Wire’ resorted to similar chicanery after it tried to push an imaginary number of higher deaths in the country during the second wave of the pandemic in the country.
By citing dubious data, The Wire attempted to put the blame on the Modi government for the alleged mishandling of the second wave of Covid-19 that struck the country in April this year.
Recently, Karan Thapar, who now works as an anchor for The Wire, interviewed Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan. In the interview, Mukherjee claimed that their research has shown that the country could have averted at least 13 million cases and over 1,00,000 deaths during the second wave with possible interventions.
Quoting her research, Professor Mukherjee said that if the government had declared a moderate lockdown in mid or late March, daily cases would have peaked at 20,000 and 49,000, respectively, instead of touching 414,000. Citing dubious data models, the professor also claimed approximately 2.6 million cases could have been averted by April 15 and nearly 12.9 million cases by May 15.
“That is a 97% reduction in cases,” Bhramar Mukherjee said.
Speaking on the deaths, Mukherjee said, according to her research, even with a moderate lockdown beginning mid or late March, between 97,000 and 109,000 deaths could have been avoided by May 15. That is 90-98% of the 1,12,000 deaths that occurred between March 15 and May 15.
“To summarise had action taken place at any time in March, it is plausible that more than 90% of observed cases and deaths between March 1 and May 15 could have been potentially avoided,” the Professor said.
The Wire ‘journalist’ uses dubious data to blame government for the so-called additional deaths
As Professor Mukherjee speculated about the so-called avoidable deaths during the second wave of the pandemic, she also pointed how there was no indication of any threat during the second week of March for government to announce a moderate lockdown across the country.
However, Karan Thapar, in his hurry to target the government, claimed that the government’s failure to impose a lockdown in the country has resulted in more than 13 million people getting affected by the infection and causing more than one lakh extra deaths. The far-left journalist Karan Thapar, known for his aversion towards the ruling dispensation, declared that the government failed to act despite warnings from INSACOG in early March, and hence it bears a significant share of responsibility for the catastrophe that hit India.
Interestingly, Professor Mukherjee refuted the remarks saying that her research was not a “post-mortem” of the second wave of the pandemic but an analysis of what could be done in the future to avoid such deaths. As Mukherjee did not want to blame the government for the second wave of the pandemic, the agitated Karan Thapar kept on pushing her through pointed questions to pin the blame on the government.
It is worth noting that neither the Professor nor the ‘journalist’ Karan Thapar mentioned the specifics of the so-called research that came with such numbers saying that many deaths could have been saved if the government had acted much before April. She insisted that one cannot also absolve the Indian public of their complacent and casual behaviour, causing the second wave of the pandemic.
It did not stop there. Karan Thapar resorted to cherry-picking specific incidents and statements put out by BJP leaders during the course of the pandemic to claim that the Government of India not only failed to contain the pandemic but also aided the pandemic by making “anti-Science” statements in the run-up to the second wave of the pandemic.
As Mukherjee suggested that the present spike in cases in the North East may have been due to election campaigns in Assam, Karan Thapar interrupted her to claim that Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the then Health Minister of Assam, had publicly said that people in the state do not need to wear masks. Linking his unconnected alleged statements to the second wave of the pandemic, Karan Thapar went on to say that such action by the government kept people blind, hence it is the Modi government that is to be blamed for the one lakh extra deaths in the country, as per the data shown by Professor Mukherjee.
To put in perspective, Assam is one of the successful states in terms of handling the pandemic both during the first and second waves of the pandemic in the country. The Northeast state has reported less than 6 lakh cases cumulatively in both the first and second waves of the pandemic and recorded a very low death rate compared to other states.
In fact, Himanta Biswa Sarma should be credited for keeping Assam insulated from the pandemic during his tenure as Assam’s Health Minister, however, Karan Thapar uses his statements, made out of context, to pin the blame on the government for the pandemic in the country. Nowhere in the interview, Karan Thapar names the state governments for their callous approach during the Covid-19 pandemic but instead puts the responsibility on the centre alone.
Karan Thapar claims Kumbh Mela, political rallies stoked second wave of the pandemic
Besides that, Thapar also blamed the centre for continuing to hold rallies, especially in the poll-bound states and spewed misinformation about the Hindu religious events of Kumbh Mela to claim that these events necessitated the sudden rise in the cases in the first week of April. However, Thapar failed to consider that opposition political parties had campaigned in the run-up to the second wave, and it is not just the BJP that did it alone.
In fact, the two states – Maharashtra and Kerala, ruled by the opposition states, were the most ravaged states during the second wave of the pandemic. Incidentally, neither Kumbh Mela nor mega political rallies, except in a few pockets. Strangely, Karan Thapar never spoke about these two states that turned out to be the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country this year.
As Professor said she did not want to make any political statements on the issue, Karan Thapar tried convincing Mukherjee that it was the centre’s failure to suspend these events that caused the pandemic resulting in severe deaths in the country, despite there is no data to show that these events resulted in a spike in Covid-19 infections in the country.
Karan Thapar comes to the rescue of Kerala
During the interview, Bhramar Mukherjee spoke at some length about the situation in Kerala, pointing out how cases are at a peak at 50% or more of the national total and expressed fear that Kerala may become India’s danger point.
Amusingly, rather than accepting that the inevitable truth that Kerala is the epicentre of the Covid-19 cases in the country, which has been reporting half of the total cases with just 2 per cent population, Karan Thapar absolved the Communist-led government by providing justifications for the mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis in the state.
In response, Thapar came up with a lame excuse saying that Kerala is reporting more Covid-19 cases as they are carrying out surveillance through tracking, tracing and testing more than any other state in the country. However, it is untrue as Uttar Pradesh has been successfully carrying out more testing than other states with more than 4 lakh tests per day, and yet, the state has recorded less than 10 per cent of what Kerala has reported despite having a population of 24 crores.
‘Researcher’ says 500 million people affected with Covid-19, more than 2 million people dead
Concluding the interview, Professor Mukherjee said her calculations done at the University of Michigan show total Covid-19 deaths would be five or six times more than the official figure of 4,20,000, which according to her, was somewhere between 2-2.5 million deaths.
Bhramar Mukherjee also said the total number of Covid-19 infections would be between 500 and 600 million without explaining the procedure she had followed to arrive at such lofty numbers.
Interestingly, in February this year, the same ‘expert’ Bhramar Mukherjee, who is now throwing up imaginary numbers without credible research, had said that the worst of the Covid-19 disease has already passed.
“There is a human barricade for the virus,” had said Bhramar Mukherjee claiming that nearly 300 million people may already have antibodies in India, thus protecting them from the pandemic. “By the end of March, we should see a very slow, steady decline (in cases),” she had added.
Certainly, if the centre has to be blamed for failing to anticipate the imminent second wave of the pandemic in February this year, the blame also equally falls on self-proclaimed epidemiologists such as Bhramar Mukherjee for saying that the worst was already over.
Well, this is not the first time that self-proclaimed epidemiologists are coming up with such imaginary numbers to say that millions died in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but none have provided credible research data to back their claims.