每日英語跟讀 Ep.K221: 印度疫情肆虐政治掛帥是主因

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每日英語跟讀 Ep.K221: Politics Steered India’s Defense To Virus Threat

The forecast was mathematically based, government-approved and deeply, tragically wrong.

這個預測以數學為根據,是政府批准的,而且悲劇性的大錯特錯。

In September 2020, eight months before a deadly COVID-19 second wave struck India, government-appointed scientists downplayed the possibility of a new outbreak. Previous infections and early lockdown efforts had tamed the spread, the scientists wrote in a study that was widely covered by the Indian news media after it was released last year.

在致命的第二波疫情侵襲印度的八個月前,政府指派的科學家在2020年9月低估新一波疫情可能性。科學家在研究中寫道,之前的感染和及早封城作法已抑制傳播,這項研究去年發表時印度媒體廣泛報導。

The results dovetailed neatly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two main goals: Restart India’s stricken economy and kick off campaigning for his party in state elections that spring. But Anup Agarwal, a physician then working for India’s top science agency, which reviewed and published the study, worried that its conclusions would lull the country into a false sense of security.

研究結果漂亮迎合總理莫迪的兩個主要目標:重啟印度受打擊的經濟,以及在春季舉行的全國選舉為他的政黨開始助選。但是,當時審閱及出版這篇報告的印度頂尖科學機構醫師艾納普.安格瓦憂心,報告結論可能誤導國家產生錯誤的安全感。

Agarwal took his concerns to the agency’s top official in October. The response: He and another concerned scientist were reprimanded.

安格瓦去年10月向機構最高官員表達他的憂心,結果他和另一名科學家被訓斥。

In the wake of the devastating second wave, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, many in India are asking how Modi’s government missed the warning signs. Part of the answer is that senior officials forced scientists at elite institutions to downplay the threat to prioritize Modi’s political goals.

察覺到強大的第二波疫情奪走數十萬條人命後,印度許多人想問,莫迪政府何以未能發現示警跡象。答案的一部分是,高級官員迫使菁英機構科學家低估威脅,以優先實現莫迪政治目標。

“Science is being used as a political weapon to forward the government narrative rather than help people,” said Agarwal, 32.

32歲的安格瓦說,「科學被當武器使用,讓政府推動政策而非幫助民眾」。

Senior officials at Agarwal’s agency — called the Indian Council of Medical Research, or ICMR — pressured scientists to withdraw another study that called the government’s efforts into question.

安格瓦所在機構「印度醫學研究協會」的高級官員對科學家施壓,收回另一篇質疑政府做法的研究。

Agency scientists described a culture of silence. Midlevel researchers worried that they would be passed over for promotions and other opportunities if they questioned superiors, they said.

機構裡的科學家描述這裡的沉默文化,他們說,中層研究人員擔心,如果他們質疑上層主管,可能錯過升遷或其他機會。

“Science thrives in an environment where you can openly question evidence and discuss it dispassionately and objectively,” said Shahid Jameel, one of India’s top virus experts and a former government adviser who has been critical of the agency.

印度頂尖病毒學家之一、曾批評該機構的前政府顧問夏希德.賈米爾說,「在你可以公開懷疑證據,且可以冷靜客觀討論的環境中,科學才能進步」。

“That, sadly, at so many levels, has been missing,” he said.

他說「令人傷心的是,在許多層面,這已不復見」。

India is hardly the first country where virus science has become politicized. The United States remains far short of taming the disease as politicians and anti-vaccine activists, fueled by disinformation and credulous media, challenge the scientific consensus on vaccines and wearing masks. The Chinese government has tried to obscure the outbreak’s origin, and vaccine skeptics have won audiences from Russia to Spain to Tanzania.

印度不算是第一個病毒科學變得政治化的國家。美國遠遠談不上控制疫情,而政客和反疫苗人士被假新聞和不實媒體搧風點火,質疑疫苗和戴口罩的科學共識。中國政府試圖在疫情起源打迷糊仗,且從俄羅斯、西班牙到坦尚尼亞,都有人聽信疫苗懷疑論者。Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5769922

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