ntent on controlling the news than the outbreak. On Wednesday, India recorded nearly 363,000 Covid cases and 4,120 deaths, about 30 percent of worldwide Covid deaths that day. But experts say India is vastly understating the true number. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, estimates that at least 25,000 Indians are dying from Covid each day.
Vladimir Putin is busily denying the truth about Covid in Russia. Demographer Alexei Raksha, who worked at Russia’s official statistical agency, Rosstat, but says he was forced to leave last summer for telling the truth about Covid, claims that the daily data in Russia has been “smoothed, rounded, lowered” to look better. Like many experts, he uses excess mortality – the number of deaths during the pandemic over the typical number of deaths – as the best indicator.
The U.S. is suffering a similar problem – the legacy of another strongman, Donald Trump. Although more than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, more than 40 percent of Republicans have consistently told pollsters they won’t get vaccinated. Their recalcitrance is threatening efforts to achieve “herd immunity” and prevent the virus’s spread.
Like Modi and Putin, Trump minimized the seriousness of the pandemic and spread misinformation about it. Trump officials ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to downplay its severity. He declined to get vaccinated publicly and was noticeably absent from a public service announcement on vaccination that featured all other living former presidents.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction