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How citizen data led India’s covid battle

Municipal workers in Srinagar in early March, 2020. By 3 March, 2020, the fact that this was going to be a fast-spreading virus became clear.

  • When the government failed to serve up data needed to make key decisions, public-spirited citizens stepped up.
  • With new variants now altering the course of both the pandemic and vaccine development, transparent data has become even more important in the pandemic’s second year

CHENNAI : March 2021 marks one year of India’s battle against the pandemic. Despite this lapse in time, large gaps remain in our understanding of its impact, and Indian researchers are using novel methods to fill in the blanks. For instance, two economists recently used a large sample survey typically used to capture consumer behaviour to estimate uncounted deaths and found that deaths in India likely shot up in 2020, but more on account of the disruption of non-covid health services than directly from the SARS-CoV2 virus itself.

Renuka Sane, an associate professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and veteran economist Ajay Shah used the Centre for the Monitoring of the Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey, which talks to over 200,000 households three times a year, seeking details about the whereabouts of each family member.

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