Covid19 Deaths in India – No, WHO is Not Right

    India has objected to WHO report on Covid19 Deaths in India. The World Health Organisation in a report release stated India alone accounted for a third of the total numbers Covid19 deaths.

    That’s not true India says vehemently, stating “WHO has released the excess mortality estimates without adequately addressing India’s concerns.”

    In its report on excess deaths due to Covid, WHO said that an estimated 1.5 crore people are likely to have succumbed to the direct or indirect impact of the disease globally during the first two years of the pandemic — instead of the 54 lakh that have been recorded officially by countries separately.

    Among other countries in the region WHO reports stated, Pakistan accounted for 1.54 per cent (230,440) of excess deaths, Bangladesh 0.9 per cent (140,765) and Myanmar 0.29 per cent (44,187). Countries such as Sri Lanka (-8,833) and China (-52,063) reported a negative total, meaning fewer people died there during the pandemic years than earlier.

    Covid could have killed as many as 47.4 lakh people in India in 2020 and 2021, either directly due to infection or through its indirect impact, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday. The figure, disputed by India, is nearly ten times the country’s official Covid death toll of 4.81 lakh at the end of 2021.

    For India, the WHO said about 8.3 lakh deaths are estimated to have happened in 2020 itself.

    The numbers come just two days after India released its annual data for registration of births and deaths for the year 2020, recorded in its civil registration system (CRS), which showed about 4.75 lakh more deaths than in previous years, consistent with the trend of rising registrations being seen over the last few years. The CRS does not record cause-specific mortality.

    Covid19 Deaths in India WHO Report: India Objects to WHO Process and Methodology

    The Government of India has repeatedly objected to the process and methodology adopted by the WHO to calculate the excess deaths, and had sent at least ten letters to the global organisation in this regard. On Thursday, the Government said in a statement, “WHO has released the excess mortality estimates without adequately addressing India’s concerns.”

    According to WHO, nearly 84 per cent of the total number of excess deaths happened in South East Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

    The high-income countries account for 15 per cent of these deaths, upper middle income countries 28 per cent, lower middle income countries 53 per cent, and low income countries 4 per cent, as per the report.

    According to WHO, the deaths linked indirectly to Covid are those that happened due to conditions for which people were unable to access treatment because the health systems were overburdened by the pandemic. It also accounts for fewer deaths due to road accidents, etc., when lockdowns were in place.

    “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

    A statement from the Union Health Ministry stated: “In view of the availability of authentic data published through Civil Registration System (CRS) by Registrar General of India (RGI), mathematical models should not be used for projecting excess mortality numbers for India.”


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