July 12, 2020

Data is the new oil…also the new snake oil

In his column for The New Indian Express, Shankkar Aiyar discusses COVID19 testing data and what it means for perceptions of political success.




"A factoid frequently cited as a positive is the ratio of recovered persons to total infected – nearly 5 lakh of the 8 lakh infected have recovered. It is true that India has a better rate of recovery among those infected and this is partly explained by the younger demography. It is also true that the death toll has been low at barely 16 per million. Globally, fatality rates fluctuate with variables — particularly with age of population, on what is called comorbidity or pre-existing conditions of those infected. 


Conditions for comparisons though must be comparable — that is registration of deaths and the cause. Record keeping in India though is a known unknown. A 2019 Home Ministry report has observed that analysis of state-level data reveals that 21.9 per cent or one of five deaths were simply not registered. It gets worse. A report of the Registrar General of India on reporting of deaths places the percentage of medically certified deaths to total registered deaths at 22 per cent — effectively the cause of death in nearly eight of ten cases is not known or at least not registered. "


Read the complete article here.

Tags : data , COVID19 , Testing
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