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Opinions of Sunday, 26 April 2020

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah & F.KN. Olympio, Dr.

Gabby, science, social science, data and the lockdown

Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko’s write-up “IS LOCKDOWN THE ONLY SCIENCE-DRIVEN OPTION FOR GHANA?” is typical influencer stuff.

It was all anecdotal stuff, wild speculations and dodgy logic from a campaign strategist who was trying to justify POTROG’s 7th Coronavirus address during which the lockdown of Accra, Kumasi and Kasoa was relaxed.

Gabby introduced social science into the debate, suggesting that the scientists have no knowledge of social science, or rather that their worldview is so limited that it does not include bread and butter issues.

Hear Gabby:

“We should be careful about being unduly influenced by imported groupthink. We must develop our own groupthink based on our own circumstances and available scientific evidence….. those with the eloquence and channels to voice their opinions and the physical and fiscal capacity to endure a lockdown, should please try and be guided more by local evidence, ie [sic] from the science, social science and data in Ghana…..”

Groupthink among scientists, social scientists and scholars generally, is that data must be verified and authenticated.

None of the data from Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana, Legon, has successfully passed any peer review process yet.

Take for example, the NMIMR press release about successful “genome sequencing” which POTROG glorified in his 7th Coronavirus address on 19 April, 2020.

Best practice rubrics dictate that the press release is only COMPLEMENTARY to the published research paper, which in the case of NMIMR does not exist because their work has not been peer-reviewed.
Why is the University of Ghana under which NMIMR operates quiet on this faux pas?

Gabby again:

“Furthermore, the warmer climate may also be helping us, (if not the years of chloroquine our bodies have endured!) because the rate of infection among those known to have been in contact with infected persons (and yet were not infected) seems much lower than what we are seeing in the West.”

Where is the evidence?

Are there not significant infections in Florida, New Orleans and the Antipodes summer of 2020?

We all pray that natural law and the virus spare Africa.

We have suffered enough in Sub-Saharan Africa – malaria, cholera, Ebola, measles, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Yellow Fever, illiteracy, corruption, plain thievery, the Anthropogenic ecocide in our pristine forests, and inverted public discourse.

The research evidence and his own logic suggest that it is misleading to say by “www.worldometers.info the global rate” is bla bla bla because, like the GDP and all measures of central tendency, it does not present nuanced local detail.

In Italy, for example, there is confirmed evidence of significant water and air pollution in the Lombardy region.

This is in addition to a markedly increased incidence of antibiotic resistance.

Does all this sound familiar?

Rather than doubt, curiosity, and humility of the scientist, Gabby opted for the populist jargon as he emphasizes key indicators such as low numbers of critically ill patients and fatality rate; seemingly favourable climatic conditions, time and speed of spread of a virus.

It all sounds like an adherent of herd immunity, a strategy that has turned too expensive for the UK and Sweden.

As a matter of fact, the 1.5% current rate of infection in ghana is very problematic.

In Germany, virologists and epidemiologists have warned that it is a reproduction number (R) of less than 1 that can avoid spread of infections as the virus becomes manageable and hospitals are relieved of congestion.

There was no data collection during the Easter break.

Many experts believe the reproduction number is probably more than 1 after the Easter break, which is a fertile ground for further spread of the virus.

The reproduction number describes how many people on average an infected person can infect other persons under the idealising assumption that no one is immune to the virus.

The lockdown period was therefore the golden opportunity to implement POTROG’s “We will make Accra the cleanest city in Africa” rhetoric.

More Gabby: “We must not be shy in asking the question: should our policy on lockdown be driven largely by the 1.5% who have tested positive? This may require a common sense answer”.

You are wallowing in infectious diseases, open defecation, unclean sachet water exchanged with bare hands, and cerebrospinal meningitis for which a vaccine exists, a palpable “local evidence” and common sense you say?

Finally, he said:
“When to come out of a lockdown is also a judgment call based on several other factors but all such factors only come to play when viewed in the [sic] light of the science and data available.”

Such “science” is a recipe for a “tightrope walk” if not a call for a “permanent state of co-existence” with covid-19.

We know who the “influencers” are – the president’s own men.

Feedback to Kofi Olympio: olympio@uni-trier.de; ato@writersghana.com; www.writersghana.com; LinkedIn, Isaac Ato Mensah; Instagram, @atomenswriters; Twitter, @Atomens; Facebook, Writers and Shakespeares Ghana; Telegram, Isaac Ato Mensah; Quora, Isaac Ato Mensah. WhatsApp (+233) 020 022 0353.

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