Stating that India was reeling badly under Covid -19 pandemic, the Lancet in an editorial said that the country should not provide “false optimism” with respect to the pandemic. “The country’s leaders must respect scientific evidence, expert commentary, and academic freedom, and not provide false optimism,” The editorial said.
Stating that hope was important, and recognising successes is vital, especially during a pandemic, t6he Lancet said that presenting the current situation in India with a too positive spin not only clouds reality but also hampers vital public health initiatives.
The editorial also mentioned that India had the expertise in medicine, public health, research, and manufacturing to lead the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic. “To capitalise on these attributes, the country’s leaders must respect scientific evidence, expert commentary, and academic freedom, and not provide false optimism,” the editorial said.
It was also critical of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for straying from scientific evidence. “A letter from the Director General of the ICMR, Balram Bhargava, said that the ICMR envisaged launching a coronavirus vaccine on August 15; a deadline considered unrealistic by most medical experts); ICMR has supported treatment with hydroxychloroquine despite insufficient evidence; and news reports claim that data on coronavirus infection were removed from a scientific paper,” the editorial said.
The Lancet editorial also questioned the transparency of the data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, especially those underpinning the case fatality rate. It said “India reports a case fatality rate of 1·8%, much lower than the reported rate in other countries, but it is difficult to know if the numbers are comparable.”
It said that the epidemic was far from over in the country with a potentially huge burden of the mortality and morbidity to come unless public health measures are used and adhered to. “Restrictions began to be lifted in June, and this relaxation has continued in the face of a continuing dramatic increase in case numbers nationally,” the Lancet said.