Doctor Retweeted By Rahul Gandhi Apologizes, Says There Are Enough Masks

Even as the Indian government is fighting the coronavirus, it’s also having to fight the misinformation that’s been spread about its efforts.

Earlier today, a doctor had claimed that there was a shortage of masks in India. “Please don’t send me to war without weapons @PMOIndia. Please arrange #PersonalProtectiveEquipment for us doctors ASAP. We need #N95masks #HazmatSuits to defeat #Corona. Sincerely yours, an Indian Doctor,” Dr Kamna Kakkar had tweeted. Her tweets had become increasingly more dramatic. “When they arrive, please send N95 masks and gloves to my grave. Taali aur thaali baja dena waha! Regards, frustrated sarkari doctor,” she had said.

Her tweets immediately began being retweeted by prominent leftist voices. But that’s when people noticed something strange — the account had been made only this month, yet still had thousands of followers. Also, the account tweeted something that was clearly false — Dr Kamna Kakkar claimed that because the coronavirus tests cost Rs. 4,500, it was unlikely that anyone would be able to get them done. But the government of India is picking up the cost of coronavirus tests, which is something a doctor would have known. When this was pointed out, the account deleted this particular tweet, but still kept the others up.

At this point, the account came to the notice of Rahul Gandhi. He shared one of her tweets claiming the shortage of masks. “I am feeling sad, because this was completely avoidable. We had time to prepare. We should have taken this threat much more seriously and have been much better prepared,” he said.

This immediately legitimized the account, and story was in news portals across the country. The Hindu even went ahead and wrote an article on how a doctor had exposed the “poor health infrastructure” in the country.

But it turns out that there was no shortage of masks at all, because Dr Kamna Kakkar has now apologized for her tweet. “I apologize for the misinformation/panic created. N95 masks are available in our institution & will be given to those in direct contact with Corona patient. There are plenty of masks — we just didn’t know which door to knock. ICMR guidelines have been rapidly changing,” she said. Soon after posting this tweet, the account was disabled.

There are a number of red flags about Dr. Kamna Kakkar’s activity. The account was less than a month old, but managed to get enough traction to get retweeted by Rahul Gandhi. The account also clearly spread fake news — it claimed that tests cost Rs. 4,500, while they are free for patients. And when confronted, the account was deleted.

This is a pattern that was seen with another account today. Earlier in the day, an account by the name of Vasundhara Sangwan had also claimed that there was a shortage of masks, but it had been revealed that until the last year, the account had the name of Vikramaditya Sangwan. Like with Dr Kamna Kakkar, when this was pointed out, the account was deleted.

In both cases, the attempt was the same — to create an impression that there’s a shortage of masks in India. In Dr. Kamna Kakkar’s instance, the tweet was even shared by Rahul Gandhi to his millions of followers. While the rest of the country is pulling together to fight the coronavirus, there are clearly some motivated actors who’re willing to go to any lengths to spread misinformation and panic.

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4 thoughts on “Doctor Retweeted By Rahul Gandhi Apologizes, Says There Are Enough Masks

  1. It is sheer propaganda from you daily switch. I know her. She just joined Twitter to raise a genuine demand. And it clear why and how she had to tweet the apology. Your report itself reeks of propaganda. She had a lot to lose but some people don’t. And people like us won’t stay silent. This shortage was created by poor decisions and ignorance by the GOI in February proven by RTIs. We doctors will die in numbers if this goes on and the blood will be on the hands of the govt and sold our journalists like you guys.

  2. There is an actual shortage of equipment. I am a doctor and if you need any proof you should visit any hospital. Contact me if you have difficulty finding one.

  3. I know Dr. Kamna personally. She is a very hardworking person who raised a very genuine issue. She has been raising issues relating to poor condition of India’s healthcare sector from a very long time. Please don’t write anything bad about her. She is a very kind soul, who every patient recommends. God bless her.

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