The Hindu Newspaper Analysis – 08 January 2021

Disinformation

  • This article is a conversation between three people and provides us with various facets with regards to disinformation which is simply, misinformation or fake news that has no credibility.
  • One of the speakers points out that fake news, though not growing in quality, is growing in quantity as several claims are reported on a daily basis and this will not stop any time soon as politics contributes to this and politics will go on.
  • Another speaker points out that this is not just in India but is dominant in several other nations like the USA, Brazil, and so on. He points out that there are 4 Ps that contribute to the same, they are as follows:
    • It is done for the pursuit of powers
    • It usually comes from a political establishment
    • It is spread for profit like fame and money, as a part of this, we have to understand that its subject to profound public disagreement where sometimes even the right information is questioned and disagreed upon.
    • It is enabled by platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp among others.
  • Today, disinformation is spread in such a way that it is difficult to find the source and the method of conveyance is untraceable.
  • The news or media houses play a crucial in this spread as they run who has done it, for instance, “so and so have falsely claimed so and so”. This tends to bring the fake news in light and irks people to get more such information into the light as well.
  • The selections they make and the content they play on their channels or papers also plays a significant role in this regard.
  • In India misinformation spreads in two ways
    • By politicians who make exaggerated claims and spill the mud on others, also
    • Social media, which is a very powerful tool in this regard and can push for anything possible.
  • Platforms like Facebook, or Youtube have an important role as the information is spread on majorly through photos and videos that are added to the news to make it more reliable. What these platforms can do is make sure that they have a database that stores all pictures that have been used so that if it is reused then it is shown that this is not a new image or new news after all.
  • Science comes into the picture as most facts presented as fake news is against what science provides for, for instance, we can talk about the recent news with regards to Coronavirus that was spread, vaccination, and so on was spread and science was the only thing that could counter it.
  • For this, we need media channels and houses to run special items with regards to science and debunk the claims that have been put forth and awareness can also be created.
  • Apart from this, the citizens also have an important role to play as they should not believe everything that they see or read and cross-check.

Fighting Avian Flu

  • Before the outbreak of avian flu this year India was declared free from Bird Flu but now two subtypes of bird flu have been reported, namely, H5N1 and H5N8 in various states like Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and so on.
  • It has not just been reported in poultry birds but also in various kinds of birds like wild and migratory birds as well.
  • The cause of the outbreak is not really known this time but it has been seen that long distance transmission has been the reason for the same where the wild migratory birds have bought it spread across to the population of the local birds.
  • Culling has been seen as option as in Kerala 69000 birds have been culled but apart from this, we can also strengthen our biosecurity measures like proper disinfection measures in poultries and others, also proposal disposal of the dead bodies and others.
  •  It is believed that this is a result of the migratory birds bringing is because the European Food Safety Authority reported 61 cases of avian influenza has been detected between August to December, 2020 among 15 European countries including the UK.
  • From the migratory birds it has been on a persistent circulation; it is also to be noted that bird to human transmission is possible but human to human transmission is rare.
  • We need to curb the spread of the virus before it mutates and results in an influenza pandemic. We need to stamp the outbreak through proper genomic sequencing and delete the spread.

How ready for vaccination?

  • COVID 19 vaccine is out but there is a lack of doctors or healthcare professionals to administer the same. To increase the number is the need of the hour and is a big challenge. As India is the second-most populous country in the world, we need to lead by example.
  • India has already trained about 400000 professionals for the same and we need more in this regard.
  • The Project ECHO has come into the picture which was a low-cost solution to train individuals and to serve the unserved communities of the country. They use solutions like video conferencing and online lessons in this regard.
  • It was also used previously for ailments like HBV, HIV, Malaria, and even create mental health awareness. We need to train more people through this especially for the rural areas as there is a dearth of individuals and professionals there.
  • India today is the largest manufacturer of the vaccines which is the Serum Institute of India. Apart from this India has also to plan various things like
    • Delivery
    • Storage
    • Handling
    • Overcome biases
    • Push for acceptance fighting vaccine hesitancy
    • Side effects counseling and so on
  • Professionals have to be pushed to acquire more skills by using the ECHO model so that people are helped in this regard.
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