The Pandemic of Panic caused by overwhelming numbers, not lethality of the virus

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The scientific community too lost the plot early, sometimes by omission and sometimes, regrettably, by commission. Prediction models based on computer simulation instead of epidemiological surveillance predicted doomsday. These caused shock and awe.

More serious are doubts concerning scientific integrity. An editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by K. Abbasi, titled, ‘Covid-19, Politicisation, Corruption, and Suppression of Science’, raises concerns about the science, or rather the lack of it during the present pandemic. It puts forth, rather candidly, that science is being suppressed by politicians, and governments ostensibly in the public interest. Making the issue murkier are conflicts of interest of academics, researchers and commercial lobbies.

The scientific debate gave way to polarization with eminent scientists on both sides of the divide on issues of Covid-19 control. The vast majority were and remain silent fearing professional repercussions. Politics and commercial interests replaced science driving policy. The New Indian Express on 20 September 2020 alleged that the ICMR, under political influence, firewalled crucial data of serosurvey conducted to assess the spread of Covid-19 spread. Such reports erode public trust in scientists.

As reported in the BMJ editorial, even in developed countries politics meddled with scientific reports. Political appointees within the US Department of Health demanded to review and revise scientific statements related to Covid-19 published by the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention. In the United Kingdom, government advisers influenced the deliberations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

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