UP ‘Tops’ COVID Management Across the World? Govt, Media Misreport

Himanshi Dahiya
·4-min read

On 6 April, government of Uttar Pradesh shared a news report on its official Twitter handle with a caption that reads, “Uttar Pradesh among toppers in Covid Management”. As per this news report, a case study by Johns Hopkins University has ranked Uttar Pradesh as one of the “toppers” in managing the coronavirus pandemic across the globe.

The Quint accessed the said case study being referred to in the report and we found that not only was the study co-authored by the UP government officials, it is also NOT a comparative study with other states in India or from other parts of the world — hence, there's no question of Uttar Pradesh being a “topper” in management of COVID-19.

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CLAIM

The aforementioned report was shared by the official Twitter handles of UP government and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s office with the same caption.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>An archived version of the tweet can be accessed <a href="http://archive.st/uxov" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.</p></div>

An archived version of the tweet can be accessed here.

Several news websites also amplified the claim without basic fact-checking. These include news agency United News of India, The Pioneer and Web Dunia.

The UNI report was shared on Facebook by UP Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna.

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WHAT WE FOUND OUT

With the help of local journalists based out of Uttar Pradesh, The Quint accessed a press release issued by a PR agency on behalf of the UP government.

The press release states that “a case study by Johns Hopkins University states that Uttar Pradesh is among the toppers in managing coronavirus pandemic across the globe”. However, it does not mention which other states from around the world were the figures of Uttar Pradesh compared with.

Next, we went through the case study on which the press release and news reports are based. The study titled, ‘Preparation For and Response to COVID-19 in a Resource Constrained Setting — A Case Study from Uttar Pradesh India’ was published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in March 2021.

COVID-19 Case Study by Himanshi Dahiya on Scribd

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We found that the study was conducted in Uttar Pradesh by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh government (a point not mentioned in news reports on the subject) and it does not make any comparison between coronavirus management in Uttar Pradesh with other states in India or from across the world.

Further, fact-checking website, BOOM Live reached out to Brandon Howard, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who stated that "the case study did not make comparisons to other countries or states, nor make claims about which states or countries are top performers."

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He also added that the study looks at "the range of actions taken in Uttar Pradesh in response to COVID-19" from 30 January 2020 to 15 January 2021, and also aimed to "identify lessons on how to respond in resource constrained settings".

The report makes several recommendations for the state for a better health emergency response, such as collaboration between different ‘relevant agencies’ and community members, strengthening lab capacities, and surge capacity planning, among others.

Evidently, several news reports amplified a government press release, which falsely states that a John Hopkins study had found UP as a 'topper' in COVID management.

Earlier, another study by a Gurgaon-based institute known as Institute for Competitiveness on the state government's handling of the migrant crisis was also falsely hailed as a "Harvard study 'praising'" the UP government.

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