'ICMR made scientists downplay threat of 2nd Covid wave, helped Modi politically', NYT claims

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An NYT investigation quotes ICMR scientists saying the medical body's forecast in September 2020 was 'tragically wrong', claims govt contributed to Covid complacency.
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New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India's top medical body, tailored its findings and forced its scientists to downplay the threat of a deadly second Covid wave to prioritise Prime Minister Modi's political goals, claims an investigative report by the New York Times released Tuesday.

Basing its investigation on a study reviewed and published by the ICMR in September 2020 — eight months before the second wave hit India — the NYT report said the ICMR's forecast was "mathematically based, government-approved and deeply, tragically wrong".

What the "government-appointed scientists" wrote in that study, the NYT report said, "downplayed the possibility of a new outbreak" and claimed that "infections and early lockdown efforts had tamed the spread" and further pointed out how the Indian media widely covered these predictions last year.

Noting that Covid spread was reduced due to the initial lockdown, which at the time was one of the world's most stringent, the study published by ICMR concluded: "If there was no lockdown, the number of active infections would have peaked at close to 14.7 million, resulted in more than 2.6 million deaths, and the peak would have arrived by June 2020. The number of deaths with the current trends may be less than 0.2 million."

The outcome, NYT claimed, helped PM Modi achieve his two main goals — "restart India's stricken economy and kick off campaigning for his party in state elections that coming…
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