WHO claims 47 lakh Covid deaths in India, govt denies report

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday, released its report on excess mortality estimates, which showed said that India had 4.7 million fatalities– nearly 10 times higher than the country’s official Covid-19 toll.

India strongly objected to the use of mathematical models by the WHO, for projecting excess mortality, saying “validity and robustness of the models used and methodology of data collection are questionable.”

According to new estimates, full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic, described as “excess mortality”, between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 was approximately 14.9 million, range 13.3 million to 16.6 million.
report. While India’s cumulative excess deaths estimated by the WHO is 47,40,894, its current Covid-19 toll stands at more than 5.23 lakh.

“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 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Deaths linked indirectly to Covid-19 are attributable to other health conditions for which people were unable to access prevention and treatment because health systems were overloaded by the deadly pandemic.

The estimated number of excess deaths can be influenced also by deaths averted during the global pandemic due to lower risks of certain events, like vehicle accidents or occupational injuries.

Meanwhile, India is likely to raise the issue at the World Health Assembly and other required multilateral forums.

In a statement, the Union Health Ministry rejecting the claims said, “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.”

Some 68% of excess deaths are concentrated in just 10 countries around the globe, with India topping the list with 4.74 million followed by Russia and Indonesia, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Turkey and US.

The estimates for a 24-month period (2020 and 2021) have been made using a modelling exercise overseen by a technical expert group of over 40 top scholars from around the globe with consultation with the member countries.

“Measurement of excess mortality is an essential component to understand the impact of the pandemic. Shifts in mortality trends provide decision-makers information to guide policies to reduce mortality and effectively prevent future crises,” said Dr Samira Asma, Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery at WHO.

“Because of limited investments in data systems in many countries, the true extent of excess mortality often remains hidden,” she added.

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