The omicron variant and scicomm

Somewhere between the middle of India’s second major COVID-19 outbreak in March-May this year and today, a lot of us appear to have lost sight of a fact that was central to our understanding of COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020: that the only way a disease outbreak, especially of the novel coronavirus, can be truly devastating…… Continue reading The omicron variant and scicomm

Panicking about omicron

The new omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has got everyone alarmed – which is darkly ironic. This variant has reportedly racked up more mutations than previous variants of concern, including the delta, with virologists and epidemiologists from South Africa and the UK paying particular attention to real-world data that suggests it could be more…… Continue reading Panicking about omicron

On the lab-leak hypothesis

One problem with the debate over the novel coronavirus’s “lab leak” origin hypothesis is a problem I’m starting to see in quite a few other areas of pandemic-related analysis and discussion. It’s that no one will say why others are wrong, even as they insist others are, and go on about why they are right.…… Continue reading On the lab-leak hypothesis

Broken clocks during the pandemic

Proponents of conspiracy theories during the pandemic, at least in India, appear to be like broken clocks: they are right by coincidence, without the right body of evidence to back their claims. Two of the most read articles published by The Wire Science in the last 15 months have been the fact-checks of Luc Montagnier’s…… Continue reading Broken clocks during the pandemic

The problems with one-shot Covishield

NDTV quoted unnamed sources in the Indian government saying it will be conducting a study to assess the feasibility of deploying the Covishield vaccine in a single-dose regimen instead of continuing the extant double-dose regimen. At any other time, such a statement may have been sufficient to believe the government would organise and conduct a…… Continue reading The problems with one-shot Covishield

On The Lancet editorial

On May 8, The Lancet published an editorial criticising the Narendra Modi government’s response to India’s second COVID-19 outbreak, which has been redefining the meaning of ‘snafu’. All hell broke loose. Of course, hell has been breaking loose for quite some time in India now, but the latest episode was in one specific sense also…… Continue reading On The Lancet editorial

Courts and COVID

India’s courts have played a prominent in helping (or not) the country manage its COVID-19 epidemic, especially during the second wave this year – from asking the government to explain which proofs of identity will be accepted at vaccination centres to recommending lockdowns. Two high courts, Madras and Allahabad, have also expressed sentiments that had…… Continue reading Courts and COVID

Being apolitical doesn’t mean politics doesn’t exist

A few years ago, we had a writer who would constantly pitch articles to us about how the Indian government should be doing X, Y or Z in the fight against this or that disease. Their submissions grew quickly tiresome, and then wholly ridiculous when, in one article (well before the pandemic), they wrote that…… Continue reading Being apolitical doesn’t mean politics doesn’t exist

The constructionist hypothesis and expertise during the pandemic

Now that COVID-19 cases are rising again in the country, the trash talk against journalists has been rising in tandem. The Indian government was unprepared and hapless last year, and it is this year as well, if only in different ways. In this environment, journalists have come under criticism along two equally unreasonable lines. First,…… Continue reading The constructionist hypothesis and expertise during the pandemic

The Government Project

Considering how much the Government of India has missed anticipating – the rise of a second wave of COVID-19 infections, the crippling medical oxygen shortage, the circulation of new variants of concern – I have been wondering about why we assemble giant institutions like governments: among other things, they are to weather uncertainty as best…… Continue reading The Government Project