This article originally appeared on VICE India.
Kenneth Copeland might have gone viral for trying to destroy COVID-19 by blowing ‘the wind of god’ on it, but turns out, he isn’t the only covidiot out there who genuinely believes that divine intervention can trump science. Now, Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy—an Indian-American doctor in Kansas City—wants to check whether prayers can heal coronavirus.
He’s so invested in his theory that “intercessory prayer", or the act of praying on behalf of someone else, could be used to appease god and heal infected patients, that he’s now launched a full-blown four month-long study involving 1,000 COVID-19 patients showing severe symptoms. According to the description given to the National Institute of Health, the study examines the "the role of remote intercessory multi-denominational prayer on clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients.”
In this study, the patients are divided into two groups of 500, which will both be given standard medical care. However, without informing the “participants” in this “study”, he is offering prayers for only one group, while the other group will only be given medicines and ventilators and other kinds of equipment that have actually proven to be helpful in treating coronavirus patients. The chosen ones will be given “universal” prayers of five faiths: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism.
Lakkireddy, who describes himself as being born a Hindu who later attended a Catholic school and also spent time at synagogues, monasteries and mosques, said that the purpose of the study is to question: "If there is a supernatural power, which a lot of us believe, would that power of prayer and divine intervention change the outcomes in a concerted fashion?” Stressing that the study anyway wouldn’t harm anyone since it wouldn’t interfere with the patients’ treatment, he admits that he has received “mixed reactions” from his colleagues. But even while this physician may have the best of intentions at a time when it’s difficult to have faith, it’s unlikely that the findings from his study will actually make any impact in the fight against COVID-19.
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