Indian scientists mobilise to counter coronavirus myths and hoaxes

Indian scientists mobilise to counter coronavirus myths and hoaxes

Pune: Can mosquitoes and houseflies spread the coronavirus? Should you be worried about contracting the coronavirus from your pets? Does clapping your hands together destroy the coronavirus? Does the Nakshatras or Rahu play any role as said by astrologers?

These and many such myths and hoaxes will be busted by the Indian scientists’ (from several different science backgrounds) who for the first time have come together to fight this pandemic.

While talking to Sakal Times, a researcher at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Prof. Surhud More said, “It was Prof. R Ramanuja of Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai who took the initiative. He, along with some ten other scientists, started spreading the awareness about it.”

“Later, many others joined him, and thus a volunteer team Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-9 (ISRC) was formed to disseminate the evidence based scientific understanding to the society”. 

There are over 400 scientists, engineers, social scientists and journalists from different parts of India in this team. Surhud has done the coding. ISRC will take various other projects too.

Our group not only tries to debunk the hoaxes that are going viral but are also spreading general scientific awareness by various other means. 

“I wanted to be part of an effort to clear up misunderstandings about COVID-19 as well as get the current scientific understanding communicated in a simple language. ISRC’s grassroots effort has brought together knowledgeable and enthusiastic people invested in the same goals. Coordinating the hoax busting team has been rewarding” added biologist Sandhya Koushika of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai.

There is no evidence to suggest mosquitoes transmit the novel coronavirus according to the ISRC hoax busters. It is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. 

Several astrologers and spiritual masters have claimed that the calendar followed by the spread of coronavirus follows a certain pattern that can be predicted by astrology. Countering this claim the hoax busters have released social media material, making it clear that the motion of planets does not impact human bodies and tiny microorganisms. 

Moreover, they say, there is no evidence of any influence of eclipses and calendrical objects like Nakshatra and Rahu on human life.

The team worked on more than 250 images in a very short time to achieve this. The hoax busting messages in English and 14 Indian languages are available at the ISRC group website: https://indscicov.in/busting-hoaxes/

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