Siddharth Chandra, Director of Asian Studies Center & Professor in Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Michigan State University, interviewed by Sushant Singh (The Indian Express)

Siddharth Chandra, Director of Asian Studies Center & Professor in Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Michigan State University, interviewed by Sushant Singh (The Indian Express)

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published Published on Mar 23, 2020   modified Modified on Mar 23, 2020

-The Indian Express

Siddharth Chandra, Director of Asian Studies Center and Professor in Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Michigan State University speaks to The Indian Express about the parallels between 1918 and current pandemic, and the lessons it holds for India.

New Delhi: Siddharth Chandra is the Director of Asian Studies Center and Professor in Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Michigan State University. His work on the intersection of demography, economics, health and history in Asia is exemplified by his seminal research on the propagation, evolution and the death toll of the 1918 influenza epidemic in India. He spoke to The Indian Express about the parallels between 1918 and current pandemic, and the lessons it holds for India.

* Are there parallels between the outbreak of 1918 influenza and the coronavirus now?

Yes, one parallel is the overwhelming of medical infrastructure to serve patients. In the case of the 1918 outbreak, there were so many patients that buildings not normally used for medical purposes were re-purposed to accommodate patients. We are seeing the same phenomenon today, with hotels being re-purposed to accommodate patients.

In the case of India in 1918, however, this overwhelming of infrastructure was more extreme than it has been so far with Covid-19. For example, in his 1918 report, the Sanitary Commissioner of India reported that some rivers were becoming clogged with corpses because of the lack of firewood to carry out proper cremations. Fortunately, this has not been the case in 2020, and I hope that the Covid-19 pandemic can be brought under control before it reaches such an extreme stage.


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Image Courtesy: The Indian Express


The Indian Express, 23 March, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/coronavirus/coronavirus-pandemic-covid-19-siddharth-chandra-interview-6327127/


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