Covid deaths 8 times the official count; Centre rejects studytext_fields
New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry repudiated a recent study's finding that India's cumulative excess Covid-19 deaths from January 2020 to December 2021 is eight times the official count. The survey in Lancet inferred that the death count reached 4.07 million in the specified period, PTI reported.
The health ministry responded in a statement that the study was speculative and misinformed, prepared out of newspaper reports and non-peer-reviewed studies. The authors of the study admitted about certain methodology flaws and inconsistencies, it claimed.
It said the methodology adopted has no scientific basis. The pandemic had surged multiple times and had varied trajectories across different states at a particular time, it said. Sensitive issues like death during a global health crisis should be dealt with facts and required sensitivity, it said. Such speculative report has the potential to create panic, misguide people and therefore should be avoided, it said.
The ministry had dismissed earlier reports alleging the underreporting of Covid-19 deaths in India. Last month it had said, "Based on globally acceptable categorisation, the government of India has a comprehensive definition to classify COVID deaths which have been shared with the states who are following it. Union Health Ministry has also regularly emphasised the need for a robust reporting mechanism for monitoring district wise cases and deaths on a daily basis," in a statement.
According to the Thursday report of Lancet, excess mortality rates in Indian states are not the highest because of the heavy population, but the country contributed 22.3 per cent of global excess deaths till December 31, 2021.
"For India, empirical assessment of excess mortality for 12 states used data from the civil registration system. For different months during the first and second waves of the COVID-19 epidemic in the 12 states in India, total numbers of deaths for those states during the corresponding months were made available," the peer-reviewed Lancet study report says, PTI reports.
"Using the mean reported deaths during the same periods in years 2018 and 2019, we were able to generate excess mortality rates for those Indian states after accounting for under-registration of mortality by the civil registration system at the state level," the study noted.
"At the country level, the highest numbers of cumulative excess deaths due to COVID-19 were estimated in India (4.07 million [3.71-4.36])," it added.