A recent study was published by a group of researchers from Stanford University highlighting different problems and issues in the quality of Covid-19 data reporting across the country. The study, conducted on data collected from 29 states, captures four key aspects of public health data reporting – availability, accessibility, granularity and privacy. From this, a Covid-19 Data Reporting Score (CDRS), with a range from 0 to 1 was calculated.
Goa, which has been witnessing a continuous surge in coronavirus cases, has been listed as the 10th worst state in reporting COVID-19 data. The state scored a 0.21 Covid-19 Data Reporting Score (CDRS), a little below the median mark of 0.26. Several parameters were analysed to arrive at this conclusion.
The research states that the best reporting in the country is done by Karnataka, with a score of 0.61. Kerala (0.52), Odisha (0.51), Puducherry (0.51) and Tamil Nadu (0.51) follow the top rank.
The research pointed out that ten states – Goa being one of them – do not report any data stratiﬁed by age, gender, comorbidities or districts. “Transparent and accessible reporting of Covid-19 data is critical for public health effects. Each state and union territory has its own mechanism for reporting Covid-19 data, and the quality of their reporting has not been systematically evaluated,” the study stated.
However, state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, responding to Goa Prism said that this Stanford study has been published by looking at only the daily media bulletin, which is supposed to be just a snapshot of the situation in the state.
“The study has been done only by looking at the daily media bulletin. A media bulletin is supposed to be the snapshot of the COVID situation in the state. It cannot show all the intricate details of each case. Such details are being meticulously collected and collated by the IDSP (Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme) cell,” he said.
He further said, “The media bulletin does mention age, sex and the presence of co-morbid conditions or otherwise.”
The research study said that at the national level, there is a lack of a uniﬁed framework for reporting Covid-19 data and it highlights the need for a central agency to monitor or audit the quality of data reporting done by the states.
“Without a uniﬁed framework, it is diﬃcult to aggregate the data from diﬀerent states, gain insights from them, and coordinate an eﬀective nationwide response to the pandemic,” the report said. There is a large inadequacy in coordination among the states in India, it added.
Therefore, coordinating an eﬀective response to the pandemic, across all the regions, presents a unique and unprecedented challenge to India, the authors mentioned.
Taking the chance of this study, Goa Forward Party (GFP) president Vijai Sardesai said that the state’s poor CDRS proves his party’s allegations of data manipulation and ineffectiveness of the government to fight against the pandemic.
“The government, on the contrary, has shown extraordinary ability and effectiveness in fighting any of its critics or opposition, rather than the pandemic,” said Vijay Sardesai.
Goa’s testing capacity has been listed as one of the best in the country in terms of tests per million, however, despite a huge backlog of around 6000 reports last week, the health administration has managed to bring down the pending report numbers to just over 2000. The Chief Minister clarified that all pending reports will be cleared by today (Tuesday).
The authors of the Stanford study – Varun Vasudevan, Abeynaya Gnanasekaran, Varsha Sankar, Siddarth A. Vasudevan and James Zou – have said in their report, that reporting relevant data in a timely, transparent, and accessible manner is crucial during a pandemic.
The researchers pointed out that it has been months since the nation-wide lockdown was initiated and each state government had a sufficient well amount of time to develop a good reporting system.
The study ranked Uttar Pradesh and Bihar the lowest – a zero score – as they reportedly do no publish any Covid-19 data on their government or health department website.
States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim were excluded from the story as they had very little cases reported.