WHO says India’s Covid deaths 10 times more than reported, government objects

As per latest World Health Organization (WHO) report, more than 4.7 million people in India are thought to have died because of Covid-19. This is the highest number in the world, that's 10 times the official figures

India has taken strong exceptions to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report, according to which more than 4.7 million people in India are thought to have died because of Covid-19. This is the highest number in the world, that’s 10 times the official figures, and accounts for almost a third of Covid deaths globally, says report. But India has strongly objected to the use of mathematical models by the WHO for projecting excess mortality estimates concerning coronavirus and has said that authentic data is available.

The WHO report also mentions that the global figure was 15 million – more than double the official figure of 6 million. After WHO’s excess mortality estimates for Covid, the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Dr Balram Bhargava said the country has a systemic data pool and it does not need to rely on “modelling, extrapolations and press reports” for ascertaining Covid-related death.

Speaking to ANI, Dr Bhargava said, “When we had Covid deaths occurring, we did not have a definition of deaths. Even WHO did not have one. If one gets positive today and dies after two weeks, will it be Covid death? Or the dies after two months or six months – will it be Covid death?”

“So, for that definition, we looked at all the data and we came to the conclusion that 95 per cent of the deaths that occurred after testing positive for Covid-19 were occurring in the first 4 weeks. So, a cut-off of 30 days was laid for the definition of death,” he stated. Dr Bhargava laid emphasis on systemic data instead of modelling exercises to ascertain Covid deaths. “We have such large amounts of data. We have data of more than 97-98 per cent of 1.3 billion who have been vaccinated with the first dose and nearly 190 crores vaccine doses have been used. So, all that is systematically collected. Once we have this systematic data, we do not need to rely on modelling, extrapolations and taking press reports and utilising them for putting into a modelling exercise,” stressed DG ICMR.

As per PIB, a government statement read, “India has been consistently objecting to the methodology adopted by WHO to project excess mortality estimates based on mathematical models. Despite India’s objection to the process, methodology and outcome of this modelling exercise, WHO has released the excess mortality estimates without adequately addressing India’s concerns.”

The statement also mentions, “India had pointed out the inconsistencies in the criteria and assumption used by WHO to classify Countries into Tier I and II as well as questioned the very basis for placing India into Tier II countries (for which a mathematical modelling estimate is used). India had also underlined the fact that given the accuracy of the Mortality Data collected through an effective and robust statutory system, India doesn’t deserve to be placed in Tier II countries. WHO till date has not responded to India’s contention.”

It adds, “India has consistently questioned WHO’s own admission that data in respect of seventeen Indian states was obtained from some websites and media reports and was used in their mathematical model. This reflects a statistically unsound and scientifically questionable methodology of data collection for making excess mortality projections in case of India.”