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Fake news on corona triggers alarm

Fake news on corona triggers alarm

Ateet Sharma

In such terrible times when social media is full of rumors and memes about the deadly coronavirus, some leading Indian media houses had to withdraw a news item they had put on air or published without verifying facts.

The 'breaking news' carried on various platforms was based on a study 'COVID-19 for India Updates’ done jointly by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) and the Johns Hopkins University, both based in the United States.

While the CDDEP (<a href="https://www.facebook.com/IndiaNarratives/posts/118774743077811?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARA-rGuBUM_T2_DUr6ar3DdvRQeKlKbfk1L01nepbVIXw8AEQPei8pxhrUJ8th8sfneYyp0eQAFC9TbpvY-hjDQA_2_xdf3t8-yA9ZzMsZmMQwtZLqZgP07Xn_9_wiMknCElKMtQJPXq1U_lwTrsm68uoHncJZe_dPcP_QZIw8IHhYnOwEy1AZF1C5q1LTszJqPaZpHVnW7_cpjylhL4XDeSpM7UtEWmG4vBwwe4rxM-JoS29tmqCdQF4Bg2IkwX4Li-WqmYwJvPyGecMrokCG8Id7F4GwAfs0HnoukwmQ2DgAYx6aOwfC5Woyr4XjjHeZ9CJzgaVVnyqi1Bzy23vzc&amp;__tn__=K-R">https://www.facebook.com/IndiaNarratives/posts/118774743077811?__tn__=K-R</a>), which also has an office in Delhi, claims to produce independent, multidisciplinary research to advance the health and wellbeing of human populations around the world, Johns Hopkins (JHU) is America's first research university which, in its own words, has been "leading discovery and sharing knowledge to better the world since 1876."

The study, circulated widely, presented a very grim picture of Coronavirus, or Covid-19, outbreak in the country.

It said majorly that:

– Between 12.5 crore to 24 crore Indians will be infected with the deadly virus with the outbreak peaking in the last week of April if efforts being made by the government fail. Or in June if the Indian government is able to control and delay the impact of the virus.

– Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra will be the two worst-affected states in India.

– Delays in testing are seriously reducing the ability of the population to protect itself

– Border closures at this stage have little to no impact and add further economic disruption and panic

– A national lockdown is not productive and could cause serious economic damage, increase hunger, and reduce the population resilience for handling the infection peak.

And, so on…

The study also said that their "model is fitted to the most recently available NFHS (National Family Health Survey) and census data and uses state-of-art agent-based modeling methods.”

However, after drawing huge flak over making such alarming assumptions, the American university had to disassociate itself from the study which had already caused much furor all over the country.

The acclaimed university tweeted: "The use of our logo was not authorized in this case and JHU is engaging with CDDEP on it. Thank you.".