The Stream

Can India’s comic superhero defeat coronavirus misinformation?

On Thursday, January 7 at 19:30 GMT:
After battling child traffickers and sexual violence in past missions, India’s first comic superhero Priya is now trying to overcome COVID-19 – battling fear and misinformation to ensure children and their families are safe.

In ‘Priya’s Mask’, Priya teams up with Jiya, a fellow superhero from a Pakistani cartoon series, to fight dubious information about the spread and health impact of coronavirus. The story, written by Shubhra Prakash, was released this month as both a 15-page comic and a two-minute animated short, and is available in nine different languages.

The latest episode in the comic series created by Ram Devineni comes as India battles the second-highest number of Covid cases worldwide. As of January 5, more than 10.3 million coronavirus cases have been logged in India, according to the Johns Hopkins Medical Center COVID-19 dashboard. Nearly 150,000 people across the country have died.

But while global authorities are working around the clock to suppress the spread of the virus, they face a challenge in convincing an exhausted public to remain vigilant and wear masks while maintaining physical distancing. The spread of misinformation on COVID-19 – particularly via smartphones and social media – is making it even harder for doctors, nurses and health officials across India to arrest the spread of coronavirus and ensure public safety.

We’ll hear from the creators of Priya’s latest adventure, as well as professionals working to safeguard children’s mental health amid wider efforts to arrest the deadly march of coronavirus across India.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll be joined by:
Shubhra Prakash, @durkhaima
Writer, ‘Priya’s Mask’

Priyam Kumar
Counselling Psychologist and Expressive Art Therapist

Poonam Muttreja, @PopFoundIndia
Executive Director, Population Foundation of India