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Johns Hopkins University not associated with study predicting crores of coronavirus infect in India by May

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Summary

A report by CDDEP predicting that crores of people are likely to be infected by the novel coronavirus in India became a point of contention after the Johns Hopkins University clarified that they were not associated with the report.

Earlier this week, on March 24, a story on the impact of coronavirus in India claiming to be based on a study done by a faculty of Johns Hopkins University was published by news agency IANS. The report claimed that the study has found that the ongoing 21-day national lockdown will not be able to contain the spread of Covid-19. A screenshot of the report's cover with the logos of CDDEP and JHU was widely spread on social media.

The report predicted that 12.5 to 24 crore people are likely to be infected by the novel coronavirus in India. As per CDDEP, they have prepared the Covid-19 report based on evidence from the InidaSIM Model, which according to them “a well-validated agent-based model of the Indian population”. The report titled 'COVID-19 for India Updates’ has been published on the CDDEP website.

The 33-page report was shared by media houses like NDTV and National Herald and was instantly noticed for its dire prediction about the situation in India arising out of the spread of Covid-19 even as the country seemed to be doing a relatively better job than most others on combating the pandemic.

The controversy erupted when JHU replied that it had not authorized the use of its logo on the report and that it was engaging with CDDEP on the matter. 

CDDEP (Center For Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy) is a public health research agency employing scientists, public health experts, and economists around the world. The report suggesting,  “A national lockdown is not productive and could cause serious economic damage, increase hunger, and reduce the population resilience for handling the infection peak”, was published before PM Modi announced the 21-day-lockdown.

Interestingly, while the report published on 24th argues against national lockdown, just 4 days earlier CDDEP’s founder and director,  Ramanan Laxminarayanan, in an interview with Barkha Dutt stressed the need for a national lockdown.

In the interview also, Laxminarayanan had elaborated with their InidaSIM Model they are using to study the coronavirus outbreak in India and had not mentioned about any collaboration with John Hopkins University.

It appears that CDDEP showed association with Johns Hopkins University, the pre-eminent research institution for the report just to attain more credibility to the report. 

In conclusion, a report by CDDEP predicting that crores of people are likely to be infected by the novel coronavirus in India became a point of contention after the Johns Hopkins University clarified that they were not associated with the report.

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