Seven noted public health experts have described an Oxford University study three months ago that projected 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in Nepal by October as dangerously alarmist, and which could have led to flawed policy decisions.
The study was commissioned by the British aid agency DFID and predicted a peak of the pandemic in Nepal from June to September with an astounding 846,000 new cases a day in the worst-case scenario.
Titled Modeling of COVID-19 Strategies in Nepal, the report was recently made public by UKaid, Oxford Policy Management and University of Oxford, and spread alarm when it was carried by the media.
‘Nepal is fighting against Covid-19 pandemic within its capacity, and so far it is doing well compared to global average,’ read a statement by the public health experts. ‘Projections such as this are the basis for further planning to mitigate the risk and hence should be based on available data and rational assumptions close to reality. A wrong prediction will lead to misguided policies and strategies, resulting in failure to address the actual problem.’
Issued by Mahesh Maskey, Sharad Onta, Badri Raj Pande, Aruna Uprety, Sameer Dixit, Abhinav Baidhya and Rajendra BC, the statement questioned the validity of the study, calling it misleading and one that could have created widespread panic among the general public.
The spread of SARS-CoV-2 has gained tempo in the past month in Nepal with a record 1,228 new confirmed cases on Thursday, with 481 of them in Kathmandu Valley alone. There were 6 additional deaths, bringing the total to 257. However, there were also 768 recoveries, highest in a single day and the total recoveries now stands at 24,207.