Representational Image | A medical worker collects sample for Covid-19 testing | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Representational Image | A medical worker collects sample for Covid-19 testing | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The central government has been accused by The Lancet of putting a “too positive spin” on the Covid-19 situation in India, with an editorial in the journal also raising concerns about the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) “straying from scientific evidence” to present a more optimistic assessment.

“… Presenting the current situation in India with a too positive spin not only clouds reality but also hampers vital public health initiatives. Perpetuating unrealistic claims or failing to honestly report negative news creates uncertainty among the public and healthcare professionals, discouraging people from taking preventive action or taking public health messages seriously,” the editorial says. 

“India has 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,” it adds.

Although the editorial praises India’s early lockdown, imposed 25 March but now largely withdrawn, the overall tone of the piece is critical, with questions also raised about the quality of data in India.

Also Read: Step up testing, work on messaging to beat rumours, Modi tells CMs of 7 worst-hit states & UT

Lockdown praised

Among other things, The Lancet editorial questions the role of the country’s apex medical research organisation, ICMR, including its insistence on hydroxychloroquine, a malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug that has, since the beginning of the pandemic, been touted as a potential preventive and treatment.

The editorial has also weighed in on ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava’s controversial push for the release of a Covid-19 vaccine by 15 August, much before its trials were expected to be completed in the due course. 

“This pressure to avoid negative news, and to offer reassurance, appears to have been felt by several professional scientific organisations in India. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been singled out by experts for straying from scientific evidence, appearing at worst politically motivated and at best overly optimistic,” the editorial states. 

“A letter from the Director General of the ICMR, Balram Bhargava, said that the ICMR envisaged launching a coronavirus vaccine on Aug 15 (Indian Independence Day; 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,” reads the editorial.

The Lancet’s criticism of the ICMR with respect to HCQ comes months after it was forced to retract a study that linked the drug to negative effects among patients, as the data used raised a stink among experts around the world. 

However, the editorial echoed the WHO’s praise of India’s early lockdown. “During the lockdown period, tertiary care provision was increased, including access to specialist equipment such as ventilators. Testing numbers also increased quickly, with India being among the first to roll out innovations like pooled testing,” it states. 

“India has also been at the forefront of efforts to develop and manufacture a vaccine, both through domestic vaccine candidates and manufacturers such as the Serum Institute of India preparing production capacity for internationally developed vaccine candidates.”

Also Read: ICMR denies sero survey hushed up data showing up to 48% Covid reach in hotspots in May


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31 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Every article the print publishes, has an underlying anti government tone. Despite having a massive population that is economically, socially and culturally diverse, India has done extremely well compared to the so called developed countries of the world. Our recovery rates are very high and comparatively low mortality rate. The way this was handled by the government and the way our supposedly weak public health system was ramped up to meet the ever changing challenges of this pandemic that has left other much affluent and developed nations around the world, in tethers, is absolutely laudable. Unfortunately, western bodies will always try to find ways to discredit anything good that comes out of these so called ‘developing non western nations’, to cover up their own failures and satisfy their colonial and racist mindset which is still very much prevalent in this age and date. And…of course we have elements in our own country, like ‘the print’ that will lap up everything that is Western as if it was manna from heaven, even to the point of discrediting our own country and projecting it in a poor light. All this…in the garb of ‘clean journalism with no hidden agenda’.

  2. Lancet should have done research before writing anything. We love to know information based on facts instead of assumption. Your short note cleary show that you were expecting large number of death in India and since its not happening you wrote this piece of shit.. Shame, why don’t you make a panel and visit cities, villages in India, we love to know info based on facts. We aren’t blind but can’t belive you also.

  3. Yes, and reporting 100,000 cases a day is putting a positive spin according to the Lancet, whose credibility is in tatters after its recent brazen attempt at playing politics rather than concentrating on science.

    The press and the leftist intellectual establishment refused to believe the numbers when daily cases were 500 and refuse to believe when it is approaching 100,000.

    The leftist pseuds seem to be really upset that people not dying in the millions in India.

  4. Lancet just published a study that uses data of Rheumatology autoimmune patients on hydroxychloroquine. The study has a horrible literature review- almost like a 10 minute web search job- and then has a critical flaw in how it builds a statistical model. A very basic error.

    When one is publishing such poor studies, the credibility is gone to talk about “scientific approach.”

    (I do agree with the general sentiment of caution of the editorial.)

    • Lancet is a journal as old as modern medicine.
      It is impossible to never make a mistake. The volume of studies had gone up due to COVID and obviously they rushed things.
      Credibility that was built in 200 years does not go away because they made 1 mistake.
      Unlike say our AYUSH which does not even have the decency to admit bad science, they are quite a credible source and they corrected quickly.

  5. A medical journal taking political pot shots, making totally generalised statements.
    And only recently this journal had to backtrack and pull out an article — the whole premise of the article was to malign the current US president.

  6. Isn’t The Print criticising the Modi Government based on a report by the same esteemed medical journal that published a study that raised safety fears over the use of hydroxychloroquine and then embarrasingly withdrew that study because it was based on data from a healthcare company Surgisphere’s patient database that could not be vetted? In their retraction, Lancet wrote: “Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO audit report to their servers for analysis as such transfer would violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements. As such, our reviewers were not able to conduct an independent and private peer review and therefore notified us of their withdrawal from the peer-review process.” This means the study that raised fears over use of HCQ could not be verified by peers. Why did this happen?
    The study published by Lancet based on this health care company’s database caused a scare over the use of HCQ. The ICMR and other health organisations that proposed HCQ as a safer alternative (till such time a better drug is found) had to issue statements that they had used far safer dosages of HCQ than proposed in The Lancet Study so the two couldn’t be compared. The Lancet team/ study team that evaluated HCQ and dissed it, chose not to reply.
    Why doesn’t this writer at The Print point this out? What does this mean for readers and common citizens like us? It means this: There are vested interests from the pharma industry, their investors who are hoping to make a billion or trillion dollars in revenues from a new vaccine for Corona. If traditional drugs like HCQ can help, then the entire plan fails disastrously. No wonder everyone is peddling a miracle vaccine against a virus that has a likelhood to fail, but don’t want to check if traditional drugs can help. From Bill Gates, to Buffets to the big Pharma Giants to smaller, nimble pharma R&D units, everyone is salivating at the money to be made from mankind’s worst crises, while they get to don the cloak of saviours. This also means they have sufficiently influenced medical, pharmacological journals and the media to present views that distort reality, while offering hope of potential cure from a vaccine. Think this is far-fetched and smells like a stale conspiracy theory? I know of at least one pharma company, where they have told employees since some months after the initial lockdown to report to work, because there was a good probability of raking in revenues. To ensure safety, the employees were all told to take a prescribed dose of HCQ, once a week. However, when an employee wrote about it to help friends and family on social media, this employee was asked to pull the post down. I am sure if the Indian media really wants to investigate this, and not spend their time tarring the Modi government at every opportunity, they will find many people from the pharma industry and the health fraternity who can open the world’s eyes to what is really happening at the industry/ health level and which vested interests are operating behind the scenes. The media has successfully built a false narrative about the deaths caused by the Chinese Corona virus is as a result of governmental inaction only. They have managed to suppress the other aspects that have really created this situation- maybe at the behest of vested interests or some inducements?

    The happenings across the world also hint at this unholy business between all vested interests. The richer countries are racing to develop a vaccine and want to be the first to win the race. None of them -including the US, Russia and the perpetrator of this pandemic on the world – China, are willing to participate in participate in the ACT Accelerator, created under the COVAX Facility, to share respurces, create an effective vaccine and bring it out efficiently and quickly across the globe, so that there are no more deaths. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator aims to bring together governments, scientists, businesses, and global health organisations with the goal of accelerating the development, production, and distribution of an efficacious Chinese Corona vaccine. By hobbling it, by dissing some cure available to a greater bulk of the population through existing generic medicines, practises, journals like the Lancet and the press which reports their biased reports are not only being unfair to the people of the world, but are depriving them of better health and recovery of both people and the economies, through use of existing resources.

  7. Vested interests with hidden agenda are desparately trying their best to malign a democratically elected popular Government. Why should they bother about what is happening in india? Who is funding them?

  8. My only concern is, in the article, why have they not supported the facts with data. Also, name of the authors and their educational credentials have not been disclosed. Moreover one of the article – “Is India missing COVID-19 deaths?” by Patralekha Chatterjee in the same journal, is coming from a Journalist and not an academician. ScienceDirect / Elsevier / The Lancet I guess are not news websites, and they should follow proper scientific temperament in anything they publish on their website, which I see is lacking in both of these pieces.

    [1] COVID-19 in India: the dangers of false optimism –
    [2] Is India missing COVID-19 deaths? –

    • Mr. Ashish , journalism is what called ground reality… journalism doesn’t need scientific backing bcz they are seeing by eyes of citizens who actually facing it and hearing by the mourns of family who lost their dear ones….
      My personal experience after i lost my unmarried elder brother …the pillar of our house, is that we do not have enough medicines here…not even basic remdivisir or Toclizibam on which ICMR is bragging…to sound more haunting let me tell you i Live in Surat Gujarat….we have to buy it on black paying 1.5 times mrp….
      What CENTER is doing it started export of same stating they have enough stock for India…..if there is enough stock where it is in Fuckin harshvardhan ass…!!?
      Sorry for being abusive… but before asking for proof mr Ashish you should first check your surroundings ground reality…..

  9. People aren’t dying in millions. That is a fact. Should that not be reported? I will tell you where they are dying in huge numbers. In Sweden where almost everyone above the age of 80 is dead. So is in Italy, Spain, Britain etc. etc.
    In case you can prove it otherwise, please do so. I would absolutely love to know the details of increased deaths in India.
    Or is the Print so bent upon only running down India that its brains have stopped functioning?
    Thoda to aql use karo yaar. There is no point in being a totally mindless humanoid.

    • How can you research this type of nonsense about india and indian people ? What is the base for your stupid report ? How many cases and deaths you expected ? Shut your mouth and stay away from this type of nonsense. OK


    • Almost everyone above the age of 80 is dead?!!!!!!

      Total dead in Sweden in 5900.
      How many 80 year olds do you think are there in Sweden?

      They lost more elderly, not all.

  10. This is perfectly in line with the consistent policy of lying constantly on everything from the election promises to every report on economic activity, law and order, security, health care, etc., etc.

  11. Some shameless news media has always been active in anti India statements. You have always misguided,mislead the nation whereas worrying about India is no where your business,THE PRINT. Better,mind your own business n stop brokerage charges from anti India supporters.

    Shameless reporting

  12. Testing for disease is the utmost important aspect to confirm the real numbers. But economic aspect, trained manpower, and another most significant aspect is to make testing absolute compulsory for every cititizen. The new quick test method and equipment kit developed be used as mass project as that of polio eradication project. Need massive exposure to this initiative.

  13. what the hell did lancet say was not brief first of all I understood nothing just felt like its just trash and bull shit nothing else, how come people allow this kind of useless news writers

  14. It’s an editorial, not a study outcome.

    Has any study or survey been done to prove data suppression published by state governments on deaths or infections?

    Lancet would have done a great service if the editorial is based on an outcome of such study.

    Without that, this editorial is just a perception of the authors

  15. Don’t really how far the official Covid data is trustworthy. The serological survey shows that the actual infection numbers are far in excess of the official data. Many in the slum areas had been infected and got well too and didn’t know about it. This data was not captured in the official figures. There is a persistent doubt that death numbers have been under-reported. Notwithstanding all this, the average growth rate shows a consistent declining trend. The week ended 24 September 2020, reflects per day growth rate of 1.57% and the active cases show a downward trend. This is just an aberration or would continue unhindered? Let us hope for the best.

  16. A discredited journal? Should we be paying attention to it? At the end of the day we cannot shut down. What we can do is make masks mandatory…. and move on!!!!

    • There is much to discredit outside of Lancet. Victory over Corona in just 2 days more than the numbers of days it took for Mahabharata, banging utensils, Go-Corona, showering petals from IAF aircraft on hospitals while later on mentioning unavailability of official data on impact of COVID-19 on medical staff, no buildup of medical infrastructure during lockdown, and so on and so forth. A scientific journal can at times makes mistakes but as long as they are readily corrected it should be ok. Has GOI accepted any mistake in the last 6 years?

      • One common sense reply.
        Every time and AYUSH official opens his or her mouth, only nonsense comes out.
        But these eager critics will wail on one of the most prestigious journals ever, because they made a mistake in panic times.


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