Fact Check-Reports about the COVID-19 outbreak in India are not ‘a UK government ploy to keep people terrified’

Misleading comparisons have been made between the COVID-19 outbreaks in India and the UK to suggest news reports have been exaggerated as part of a British government plan to frighten citizens.

The comparisons were made in a graphic posted to Facebook which has since been shared hundreds of times (here). It reads: “In the past 14 months I’ve seen some absolute nonsense posted by the media, but this is the absolute WORST. What better way to persuade a population to be super scared of the Indian ‘double mutant’ than to show horrific images from India?”

The post goes on to point out India’s population of 1.4 billion and how its “current peak” on April 20 (1,625 single-day cases) was lower than the UK’s infection peak (1,823 single-day cases). “Do you really think a country with 1.4 billion people can’t handle 1,625 deaths? 1,625 deaths is 0.000% of India’s population,” the post continues.

“It’s all a ploy by the UK Government to keep you terrified. The UK Government has paid the UK media over £1.1 billion. They aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds them. Make no mistake, the so called Indian variant will be used to bring in more draconian measures and send us deeper into poverty and despair.”

This, however, is misleading for several reasons. Firstly, population size is not a watertight indicator of how well a nation will cope with a pandemic. Rather, it would be better to compare things like healthcare systems and capacities, population density, and more.

It is also important to note that since India’s April 20 report of cases and deaths, more recent daily figures have shattered records. The eight days after April 20 have seen the country consistently break the global record for new cases, as well as domestic figures of COVID-19 deaths. On April 29, there were 379,257 new infections and 3,645 fatalities (here) – figures that are also widely accepted to be underreported (here , here).

India’s public health record is notoriously poor, which is a situation highlighted throughout the pandemic (here , here , here). The UK, by comparison, has one of the best public healthcare systems in the world ( ,

Reuters has also reported on the worsening situation in Indian hospitals during the latest wave of the pandemic, where there have been oxygen shortages and a lack of beds. In New Delhi, there have been specific incidents where people have been forced to wait outside an already overflowing hospital and have died while waiting for treatment (here , here). Another report about the same issue from the same hospital can be viewed here .


Missing context. It is misleading to compare the UK’s peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to the current situation in India. This is due to experts believing official figures in India are underreported, as well as differences in healthcare capacities and an infection rate that continues to increase.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts