India coronavirus dispatch: Debunking some myths around Covid-19 pandemic

Topics Coronavirus | Lockdown

A worker prepares masks during a 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic in Ranchi
Here is a roundup of articles in Indian news publications on how India is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. From increasing our testing capacities, to a post-pandemic global economy, and why experts insist that Covid-19 is not a product of a bioweapons lab — read these and more in today’s India coronavirus dispatch.

Expert Speak

From conspiracy theories to community transmission, two Indian experts answer questions: Did Covid-19 escape from a bioweapons lab? When will the peak outbreak take place in India? Is there a high probability of community transmission already in India? Dr Gagandeep Kang, clinical scientist and executive director of Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, and Dr Shahid Jameed, virologist and chief executive officer of Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliance, debunk myths surrounding Covid-19 and explain in detail what this pandemic means for the country. Read more here.

Citizens Under Lockdown

Following lockdown, many stare at financial instability in Delhi: A cab driver struggles to sustain a family of five. A sole bread winner of her family has not had work for a week. A shop owner borrows money to eat a meal in a day. The 21-day lockdown has left several pockets empty with little to survive on. Here are voices from those struggling to make ends meet. Read more here.

Cabin fever can lead to rage and anxiety; talking is a de-stressor: Feelings of isolation, anxiety, helplessness and rage, driven by being cooped up in a confined space for several days can lead to what is referred to as “cabin fever”, and may heighten personality conflicts. Read more about the mental health impact of a lockdown, and how NASA astronauts survive isolation.

Long Reads

Coronavirus: Amid lockdown, how is doorstep delivery of food and medicine working in urban India? Few Indians shop for groceries online regularly, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that more are trying to buy essentials from e-commerce sites. Read more about the challenges and the mitigation efforts by e-commerce firms during the lockdown.


Researchers in India must join the fight against Covid-19: India has a long history of dealing with infections. It also has a disease surveillance programme for epidemic detection and response since 2004. The failure of the Indian research community to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic with sufficient alacrity is surprising. Read here to understand what Indian researchers should do to urgently address the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keeping poor safe in lockdown is state responsibility, not an act of charity: Christophe Jaffrelot and Utsav Shah explain why the time has come for the government to revive vital functions of the welfare state, minimise the concentration of power at the Centre, and maximise aid to the poor and vulnerable. Read more here.

Managing Covid-19

This is how the Kerala govt, police and residents are helping the poor and fighting Covid-19: Kerala, which now has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country, has found innovative ways to manage the crisis. These include community kitchens, masks and sanitisers, unique policing, among other means. Read more on the state’s management strategy.

Data – To reduce coronavirus spread, India needs to test more, lockdown notwithstanding: The growth of Covid-19 cases has not been exponential, nor has it flattened out. The curve lies somewhere in the middle, and this picture is misleading, because India has a poor testing rate. As witnessed in countries which imposed strict restrictions but saw a surge in cases later, a nationwide lockdown may not be enough. See the data here.

Understanding Covid-19

Covid-19 has been milder in children, but not clear how malnourished children might be affected: Despite ongoing research, there is little knowledge of how Covid-19 affects children and pregnant women, especially in places like Africa and Asia, where malnourishment is a big problem. Read this interview with Karen Kotloff of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a specialist in infectious diseases and pediatrics, on how Covid-19 affects this population.


How Covid-19 will change the world: The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed how interconnected and deeply globalised our world is. What is the future of global trade? How do we ensure that basic levers of the global economy continue to function? Watch this online conversation with Shyam Saran and Shivshankar Menon moderated by Yamini Aiyer, to understand all this and more about the world after the Covid-19 pandemic.

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