Even as commercial flights took to the skies, following intense lobbying by airline companies, and the Railways plan to relaunch train operations, there is real fear that the Covid-19 pandemic, so far controlled numerically by a cynical Centre and the state governments, will dangerously explode in the coming weeks .
The economy has already run aground and there is little hope that even a lifting of the national lockdown, imposed without either a Plan A or Plan B or even a Plan C — barring, of course, the doctoring of numbers — will help its restoration. Doctors to fight the pandemic, rathering doctoring of numbers, is what India needs now.
In the midst of this gloom and doom, what must, however, not be lost sight of is the near-efficient levels of cooperation between the central and state governments to suppress, conceal, hide and manipulate the total number of Covid-19 cases, infections, recoveries and deaths.
Each state government has a vested interest — primarily political — to keep the numbers down. The Narendra Modi government’s objective is take credit for being able to contain the deadly virus.
That it wants to win the laurels is revealed by its unstated decision to not allow specialists — virologists, immunologists, epidemiologists and other researchers or doctors of repute — to express their views freely on how Covid-19 could devastate the population.
When it did allow, in the form of Niti Aayog’s Dr V K Paul, who had earlier declared that Covid-19 will vanish from India mid-May, it was an act of chicanery belied by the raging virus and the resulting increasing body counts resoundingly disproved and nailed.
It was the government’s duty to take all of India into confidence and declare that the virus will continue to play havoc, that it was procuring larger and larger numbers of RT-PCR testing kits, ventilators and PPEs, that it would ‘take over’ private hospitals and establishments to test, treat and save a likely unending flow of infected people, that it would deploy non-combatant elements of the army for foodgrain distribution and that it left hundreds of thousands of poor, hapless and helpless migrant labourers to fend for themselves. A venal and cruel set of men and women are now pushing Indians to collective perdition. This is how:
It doesn’t need a great statistical mind to unravel the fact that a deceitful ‘numbers game’ was set in motion since the national lockdown was imposed. From the very beginning, the ‘project’ was to keep the numbers across all parameters — total Covid-19 cases, total recoveries and total deaths — down. Otherwise, how is it that while across other Covid-19-ravaged countries where data showed a consistent co-related rapid spike in infections and deaths, in India the ‘growth’ (as seen on the Covid-19 tracker website) was sluggish, if not slow.
The first noticeable number of new cases, in India’s context, began to appear in early March: almost towards the end of the month, the new cases were in double digits. On March 30, 227 new cases appeared along with five deaths. The next day, the numbers fell to 146 and three, but on April 1, the new cases rose to 601 and 23 deaths. The deaths remained in double digits till May 1 (69) and shot up to 100 the next day. The next big spike was on May 4 when 175 deaths occurred. Even as the probable day of lifting of the lockdown neared (June 1), on two successive days — May 22 and 23 — an identical number of people (142) died, followed by 156 on May 24.
There is no doubt that insufficient testing so far has kept the number of total Covid-19 cases down. Intuitively, this would also keep the number of deaths down. Here lies the puzzle: Even as enough testing is not being carried out, the number of infections in India are rising. However, there is no corresponding spike in the number of deaths. While the total infections continue to rise, the death numbers have surprisingly ‘plateaued’. It is as if an unseen, hidden hand has kept the death data from spilling out in the open. In epidemiological data modelling, the peak of new infection curve occurs before the peak reached by new deaths. This holds true for all infectious diseases such as Ebola, MERS, tuberculosis, measles, small pox, malaria etc. In the case of India’s Covid-19 experience the curve of new deaths has started plateauing while that of new infections is still rising and is yet to reach the peak.
As an aside, it must be added that a few media exposes have revealed how death numbers have been suppressed in some states, including Delhi. Earlier, it was revealed that the West Bengal government was not even including the deaths due to comorbidity (pushed and propelled by Covid-19) in its daily briefs. And now, for over a week, Covid-19 deaths in Bengal have become a surprising trickle: on May 24 (on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr), the state health department bulletin recorded only three deaths even as the administration continues to battle the debilitating impact of the Amphan cyclone.
A more insidious effort is at work to project why Indians are less susceptible to the virus: a so-called robust immunity, and this in the backdrop of the stark reality that there is no published work in peer reviewed journals of this much-touted but empty claim. On the other hand, the Ministry of Ayush has been peddling mumbo-jumbo, claiming that applying certain types of oils such coconut and mustard in nostrils would reinforce people’s immunity and thereby ward off Covid-19.
An anti-science government is an obvious suspect in Covid-19 death data manipulation. Perhaps this is the reason why, despite the hype and hoopla over the resumption of airline operations today, as many as 80 flights were cancelled because there were no passengers for these sectors. The people, despite the government’s data deception operation, seem to have seen through the jiggery-pokery. It is now time that the government’s bluff is called and the men behind it exposed. Otherwise, these very men will push massive numbers of people to their deaths.