Q) The COVID19 crisis has highlighted the importance of data in building resilience towards such crises. Elucidate.

Why this Question?

Issue of current importance

Key demand of the Question 

Determine how political situations in Nepal have an adverse impact on India and the approach that should be adopted by India.


Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.


Start with giving a context about the question.


In the first part, highlight the importance of data in fighting pandemics.

In the next part, highlight how data is used in effective decision making.


Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answers

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted globally how important data is to governments in decision-making. The power of such data was seen early on in the evidence-based response and decision-making in countries like South Korea. Epidemiological data is of paramount significance for targeting and implementing control measures for public health in a timely manner.

How is data critical in a crisis like the pandemic?

  • Helps in continuous and repeated track of case numbers, fatalities and recovery.
  • Data analysis and modelling help in the prediction of the epidemiological concept of flattening the curve.
  • Understanding testing adequacy or lack of it helped us to measure our preparedness, prognostic vs diagnostic ability and thus shape our responses accordingly.
  • Data like case data, medical and treatment data was used to understand disease pathogenesis and severity.
  • Genome sequencing and surveillance aids in identification and track of viral genome sequence variants and the evolution of the virus.
  • The correlation of genome surveillance data with the magnitude of cases and their outcomes, it helps in understanding the transmissibility or infectivity of the virus.
  • The integration and analysis of multiple heterogeneous datatypes would yield a holistic picture and help in guiding policy decisions for control and management of public health.

It is therefore clear that background data that define the underlying characteristics of resident population like demographics, movement data, health infrastructure, water supply system and hygiene infrastructure are critical during a pandemic. However, a larger part of the challenge is standardisation of data collection, curation, annotation and seamless integration of data analytics pipelines for outbreak analytics. For this, timely availability and quality of data under operational constraints is critical.

In recent times, we have seen that large scale collection of data is often surrounded with concerns pertaining to data privacy and security. Therefore, a systemic infrastructure with built in safeguards to ensure data encryption and preserve anonymity and ensure privacy is important. The efficacy of data in mitigating the pandemic crisis cannot be ignored, therefore an urgent charter for standardized digital health data is required in India.