‘There is no synchronisation in data presented by different institutions on their dashboards’.

New Delhi: Data discrepancy on count (including deaths) in Covid-19 cases in the world has become a routine affair as there is no synchronisation in the data presented by the different institutions on their dashboards.
The institutions that are out of sync with each other include the World HealthOrganization (WHO), Johns Hopkins’ Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) from aboard and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union Health Ministry from the country.
For example, on 20 April, the Johns Hopkins’s CSSE dashboard mentioned total 18,539 Covid-19 cases in India; on the other hand, the WHO and ECDC put the same at 17,265 on 20 April. The same day, the ICMR dashboard put total 17,615 Covid-19 cases, while the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare kept it at 16,116.
The lack of synchronization is not limited to the counting of Covid-19 positive case only, as a similar situation is visible in the Covid-19 death counts too. For example, on 20 April, the Johns Hopkins CSSE reported total 592 Covid-19 deaths in India while, the WHO and ECDC kept the figure of total death at 543. Incidentally, earlier this same institute had made forecasts for India that have subsequently been found to be alarmist and misleading.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has termed the data discrepancy as an “occasional” lag, but the regular testing updates of the ministry and ICMR show that data discrepancy is a frequent occurrence.
Experts say that the lag in presenting data at the time of the pandemic is a usual occurrence, but the same shouldn’t continue for a longer period.
ICMR has been tasked with updating testing data on a regular basis. This issue is being raised by several data scientists, including Professor Shamika Ravi, who is at the center of Covid- 19 data study. The ICMR did not update data on 20, 21, and 22 April.
The lack of synchronisation in the data presented by the different institutions was also visible on 24 April. On 24 April, the WHO dashboard showed total of 2549632 confirmed Covid-19 cases and a total of 175825 deaths across the world (last updated on 23 April 2020, 05:30 GMT+5:30).
Another institution, Johns Hopkins CSSE counted total 2,709,408 confirmed Covid-19 positive cases with total 190,861 deaths across the world, while according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the total number Covid-19 cases on 24 April were 2588 068 and total 182808 deaths happened due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Dr Shyam Singh, a noted virologist who was at the helm of dealing with Japanese Encephalitis in the country, told The Sunday Guardian: “After considering the data given in the dashboard of different institutions, one thing is clear that the discrepancy occurrence on the Covid-19 case count is not occasional. In order to understand the global pandemic, we need global testing updates and in case of India, we have seen that ICMR must move in sync with the Union Health Ministry.
Some countries provide clear and helpful data on testing, but for many countries, however, available data on testing is either incomplete or unavailable, which may cause errors in reading an overall picture of the current pandemic.”
Reports of problems in data on Coivd-19 count by some state governments in India have been coming and it is important that we know the overall situation of a virus outbreak in the country. This is needed for both citizens as well as officials to ensure that life goes back to normal at the earliest.