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The more testing mantra is feeding fear and lockdown

The more testing mantra is feeding fear and lockdown

The good news is that the positivity rate—corona positive cases per 100 tests—has come down from 4.7 per cent to 3.8 per cent in a month. Since the tests are random, and generally accepted as authentic, it is evident that the dreaded ‘community spread’ hasn’t happened in the last one month. This despite over a million people getting tested.

This can also be interpreted as bad news. Even if the positivity rate comes down, since we are testing more and more people—around 75,000 a day—the number of positive cases would also go up dramatically. Total positive cases (hopefully not but) may be as high as 80,000 by the end of Lockdown 3.0. There would again be clamor for lockdown extension.

This is the reason that the public health activists, most of whom are Left-leaning, keep demanding more testing. More testing means more positive cases, and more fear psychosis, thus buttressing their lockdown narrative.

The Congress, having turned Leftwards under Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, keeps echoing these activists. Several Chief Ministers, fearful of the rise of cases in their respective states, favor stringent restrictions on movement and activities. This is having a very bad impact on the economy. And this is what the Left wants: as much damage to the economy as possible and, consequently, greater government controls.

In other words, the Left’s self-fulfilling prophecy about the ‘terminal crisis of capitalism’ becomes true. Encyclopedia Britannica explains self-fulfilling prophecy as the “process through which an originally false expectation leads to its own confirmation. In a self-fulfilling prophecy an individual’s expectations about another person or entity eventually result in the other person or entity acting in ways that confirm the expectations.”

The encyclopedia explains the process through an example: “A classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy is the bank failures during the Great Depression. Even banks on strong financial footing sometimes were driven to insolvency by bank runs. Often, if a false rumor started that the bank was insolvent (incapable of covering its deposits), a panic ensued, and depositors wanted to withdraw their money all at once before the bank’s cash ran out. When the bank could not cover all the withdrawals, it actually did become insolvent. Thus, an originally false belief led to its own fulfillment.”

The more we test, the more zones will turn from green to orange to red; and stronger the case would become for the extension of the lockdown. This would be playing into the hands of the Left.

The truth, however, is that the situation is not as bad as public health activists make it out to be. A senior official of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) told a newspaper recently, “Test positivity rate is the best indicator for any infectious disease spread. The rate is very encouraging in India as even when the number of tests has been steadily increasing, India has maintained a test positivity rate between 3 and 5 per cent since March.”

Health & Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan has also pointed out that India’s corona mortality rate of 3.2 per cent is the lowest in the world. And that, by the way, is the crude mortality ratio. If the actual number of infected people—those who got the coronavirus but whose bodies overcame it—is also taken into account, the fatality rate could be very low. Maybe 0.1 per cent, which is that of the flu.

The need of the hour is to make the good news better by briskly phasing out the lockdown. Of course, we have to follow the necessary protocols and be prepared for any spurt in Covid-19 patients—something that has already been done.

We have beaten the greatest and most powerful empire of history, that of Great Britain, the empire in which the sun never set. We thrashed Pakistan and dismembered it about half a century ago, despite it having the backing of the might United States. We will defeat Covid-19 too.

By the way, there is something in our ethnicity, climate, and/or extant immunity that has restricted the severity of the novel coronavirus. Nothing else explains the extremely low Covid-19 fatality rate in India.

In general, Indians seem to have a strong resistance to flus. During the 2009 swine flu (H1N1), for instance, there were 2,035 deaths in our country, whereas 12,469 people died in the US despite the latter having infinitely better healthcare infrastructure and a fourth of India’s population. In the Asian Flu pandemic of 1957, 1,098 people died in India. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US, “The estimated number of deaths was 1.1 million worldwide and 116,000 in the United States.”

There is no point in becoming complacent because of these facts, but then there is also no reason to get terrified by a disease which has done very little damage in our country so far..