Here’s Why Pakistan’s Policy-Makers Cannot Sift Corona Fact From Fiction

LILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 20: Adeline Danneels (L), CNRS technician and Sandrine Belouzard, virologist and researcher, at work in high-level P3 biosafety security laboratory at the Pasteur Institute of Lille on February 20, 2020 in Lille, France. The research institute has sequenced the genome of Coronavirus 2019-nCoV using blood samples taken from the first confirmed French cases of the virus. The institute's scientists will now focus on developing how the virus works, treatments and a possible vaccine. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

In Covid-19 times, “half truths” picked up by an overzealous media have become “reality”.

First it was Donald Trump with his Hydroxychloroquine and its Clorox derivatives, at least in his eyes. Then Boris Johnson downplayed the virus till he got really ill. And at home here, Imran Khan and Asad Umar followed an ill advised pathway until other, more established power centres seem to have molded the narrative.

All this begs the question: is there a medic in charge ?

Why are half truths based on dubious studies or anecdotes suddenly being blown up by an equally hysterical media into a panacea for all the problems caused by Covid-19?

I have been speaking almost on a daily basis with my evidence-informed friend who is a highly-placed medical professional in charge of critical pulmonary care. It appears that due to the absence of research and evidence-informed academic medicine in our parts of the world, a headless chicken is now coming home to roost.

For way too long, our pseudo-academic healthcare practitioners assumed expertise based on ’eminence’ rather than evidence, based on the number of overcrowded 3-minute-a-patient clinics that they run, rather than quality of research and true academic credentials. So they come in droves on prime time television, advising the government and the Powers That Be, using their self proclaimed expertise, to further misguide a country beset with suspicion and paranoia about the motives of healthcare professionals vis a vis Coronavirus.

We need to have serious discussion on prime time television as well as social media, moderated and contributed to by those who care to critically appraise newly published research evidence and are able to sift fact from fiction.

When the nation looks at active or retired government functionaries from various educational and scientific domains to deliver verdicts, what happens is what we see in our country now: i.e. curative medicines touted as potential cures for Covid-19 start disappearing off the shelves, unsubstantiated therapies become the norm and inappropriately matched patients without true indications get inappropriately prescribed therapies.

Will the true academics please stand up at this time and be counted?


The writer is Consultant and Head of Nephrology at Maroof International Hospital