In a massive jump in Covid-19 deaths in the country, 2,003 fatalities were added to the toll on Tuesday. This means that India’s Covid death toll has risen by as much as 20% in a single day to 11,914. A large portion of this jump is attributed to Maharashtra and Delhi reporting previously unreported Covid deaths.
In fact, as many as 1,328 Covid deaths had previously not been added to Maharashtra’s tally. Similarly, Delhi reported 344 back-dated Covid deaths following perusal of case summaries by the death audit committee. This is truly worrisome. Such lacunae in data collation and publishing can seriously jeopardise our efforts to fight the pandemic. Real-time data on Covid infections, deaths and recoveries are of paramount importance in determining policy and treatment approaches in an evolving situation.
On the other had, slow data collation and publication can lull us into a false sense of security. True, Covid is going to be with us for some time. But in order to cope with the disease and resume normal economic activities, we need to have adequate testing, hospital infrastructure and contact tracing measures. All this is predicated on having access to real-time, accurate data. Therefore, the political impulse to suppress data to make governments look good temporarily needs to be resisted at all costs. We cannot have a sensible, calibrated approach to Covid without data. It should be seen as an important tool to fight the disease. So let us not politicise Covid data and quickly improve our data collation and publishing mechanisms.