The World Health Organisation in its effort to calculate the total number of deaths caused due to Covid-19 across the world hinted at data that has not pleased the Indian government. W.H.O. data is indicating a staggering figure of 4 million deaths caused during the pandemic by the year-end of 2021. This is vastly different from the Indian government which stands adamant about its record of 5, 20000 death. This has become the major root of the delay in releasing the data.
Why is India pushing the release of the report?
If the data is published India will have to own the most number of deaths during the pandemic globally. The data initially planned to be released in January has been pushed to several dates. The data has the potential to globally tarnish India’s image as well as raise questions regarding the Moi government hiding or underreporting the number of deaths due to Covid in the country.
Meanwhile, India has accused W.H.O of using an incorrect methodology for collecting information leading up to the report. In a statement to the United Statistical Commission in February Indian government said, “India feels that the process was neither collaborative nor adequately representative.”
It further argued that the methodology did not “hold scientific rigor and rational scrutiny as expected from an organization of the stature of the World Health Organization.”
This is not the first time India is denying a report that mismatches its data. In February, a journal named Science was attacked by the health ministry for coming to an estimate of Covid deaths to be 7-8 times more than the official numbers. Again, in March, questions were raised at The Lancet report by the government regarding the methods used to come to the conclusion of around 4 million deaths due to Covid-19 in India.
What was the methodology used by the W.H.O?
The World Health organisation clubbed the national data on reported deaths with the information collected from localities and multiple household surveys. It was further added with the statistical model used to account for the death that was missed.
In an attempt to get the most accurate measure of the impact the pandemic had globally, the W.H.O. assembled a group of specialists including demographers, public health experts, statisticians, and data scientists. The group called The Technical Advisory Group collaborated with countries for several months to try to put together a complete accounting of the deaths caused by the novel virus.
The mortality data has not been submitted by India to the W.H.O. in the past two years. The global health organisation’s researchers have used numbers gathered from at least 12 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Karnataka, which show at least five to six times as many deaths as a result of Covid-19.
Were the deaths caused by Coronavirus undercounted in India?
Several reports that were published by various publications indicated a major disconnect between the number of deaths that were officially recorded by the government and the deaths that are taking place across the country. Reports of crematoriums having no space to burn dead bodies according to the Hindu rituals had also come out.
The hospitals were saturated and the oxygen ran out with critical patients scrambling for beds and medical facilities.
A report published in The Hindu last year, states that the “excess deaths” registered during the same time when the pandemic was at its peak was 5.8 times the official toll. The report assessed the data accessed from the Civil Registration System (CRS) which said that the share of registered deaths in India was about 92 percent and out of which 20 percent were medically certified.
Reports of hundreds of corpses floating on the Ganga river had also come out last year indicating deaths in the hinterlands of India were not being counted.
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