Aug 18, 2020
While the Pandemic in India Shows Promising Signs of Having Peaked, the Media Infodemic Rages On
Green shoots: A second day of active cases declining. Could India have peaked? 2 days is a good sign but it would be irresponsible to make the call that India has peaked, especially when new cases are still around the 60K level. But we at CIO are cautiously optimistic. Looking around the media over the last 24 hours, you might have thought the sky was falling. Numerous reports of Malaysian scientists finding a “10 times more infectious” virus with some claiming the worst is yet to come and that the virus is “10 times more deadly.” While the pandemic may be showing signs of recession, the infodemic rages on.
Let’s understand this new D614G mutation that supposedly is a new super deadly threat, the harbinger of what would be equivalent to the second deadly wave that the 1918 influenza faced in October of that year where mortality rates were 10 times higher. Are media claims justified?
First of all, the media claims it to be a new mutation. The D614G mutation is referred to here. This is a preprint of a paper from Apr 30. An article in Times now reveals that this mutation was established in the public media no later than May 8.
Another claim is that the virus is 10 times more infectious. This is possibly true, the strain has quickly become dominant. One explanation for this is Darwinian, greater transmissibility, better survivability. Another, especially in a world full of lockdowns, is … coincidence. For a more balanced perspective, read this.
The most controversial claim is that the virus is 10 times deadlier. Even if the virus is 10 times more infectious, to imply a correlation to 10 times deadlier is just unscientific, and therefore, scaremongering. One of the best outcomes the world could hope for is a mutation to a far more transmissible and benign upper respiratory tract infection like a common cold coronavirus rather than a SARS coronavirus. Infectiousness does not have to equal deadliness. If this were the case, then when on May 8, Times Now reported that the D614G was already spotted in 50% of cases in a study. we would have expected spiking mortality in India, which we have not seen.
We live in a pandemic; question everything.
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