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47.4 lakh excess deaths in India: WHO

Overall, the organisation estimates India accounts for a third of the 1.49 crore deaths

Sabrangindia 07 May 2022

WHO
Image Courtesy:aljazeera.com

Latest Covid death estimates shared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) point at a whopping 47.4 lakh excess deaths in India. This number is nearly 10 times the country’s official Covid-19 reported deaths between 2020 and 2021.

Readers would recall that CJP had published a study of excess deaths in the state of Uttar Pradesh's Purvanchal region alone. We found that from January 2020 to August 2021, the areas surveyed saw around 60% more recorded deaths than expected from 2019 records as well as from government data on the death rate in the state before the pandemic.

Estimates released by the WHO on May 5, 2022 say that globally, the coronavirus resulted in a total excess death toll of 1.49 crore deaths. Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years.

With India accounting for an approximate 47,40,894 Covid deaths, this means that the country alone accounts for nearly a third of the world’s casualties!

These numbers are the result of a global collaboration supported by a technical advisory group and country consultations in line with several independent studies that claimed gross undercounting of deaths by India.

By December 2020, the data estimated 8.32 lakh deaths in India with the highest deaths reported in September 2020 (3.13 lakh deaths). Between January 2020 and December 2021, the highest deaths were reported in May 2021 (13.04 lakh deaths). Following India, are Russia (10,72,326 deaths) Indonesia (10,28,565 deaths), the US (9,32,458 deaths) and Brazil (6,81, 267 deaths).

“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.

Overall, 84 percent of excess deaths are concentrated in South-East Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Around 68 percent of excess deaths are concentrated in just 10 countries globally. Middle-income countries account for 81 percent of the 1.49 cr excess deaths. As many as 53 percent deaths were from the lower-middle-income countries and 28 percent deaths were from the upper-middle-income countries over the 24-month period.

Further, the WHO stated that the global death toll was higher for men than for women (57 percent male, 43 percent female) and higher among older adults.

Centre claims dubious methodology

Rejecting these data points, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare published a press release where it criticised the methodology adopted by the WHO to project excess mortality estimates.

“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. India had also informed WHO that 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,” it said.

The Ministry claimed that birth and death registrations in India are robust aspects of the administration. Earlier, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) carried out a survey in Varanasi and neighbouring areas and showed for rural India the registration system has fallen into disarray.

The government also claimed other inconsistencies in the criteria and assumptions used to classify countries into Tier I and II and questioned India’s position as a ‘Tier II’ country. It stressed 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,” said the Ministry.

The Union health ministry had, on the basis of data from states, documented 4,81,000 Covid-19 deaths during 2020 and 2021 as opposed to WHO estimates.

Meanwhile, WHO Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery Dr Samira Asma said, “These new estimates use the best available data and have been produced using a robust methodology and a completely transparent approach.”

Similarly, Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall stressed that data is the foundation for promoting health.“We know where the data gaps are, and we must collectively intensify our support to countries, so that every country has the capability to track outbreaks in real-time, ensure delivery of essential health services, and safeguard population health,” said Fall.

Related:

Covid numbers rise again: Don't panic, wear your masks!
India ranks high in cumulative excess Covid-deaths: Lancet report
Why does the Hippocratic oath need to be replaced with Charak Shapath?
In 2021, COVID Deaths Surged in Stunning Fashion in Eastern UP, Investigation Finds

47.4 lakh excess deaths in India: WHO

Overall, the organisation estimates India accounts for a third of the 1.49 crore deaths

WHO
Image Courtesy:aljazeera.com

Latest Covid death estimates shared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) point at a whopping 47.4 lakh excess deaths in India. This number is nearly 10 times the country’s official Covid-19 reported deaths between 2020 and 2021.

Readers would recall that CJP had published a study of excess deaths in the state of Uttar Pradesh's Purvanchal region alone. We found that from January 2020 to August 2021, the areas surveyed saw around 60% more recorded deaths than expected from 2019 records as well as from government data on the death rate in the state before the pandemic.

Estimates released by the WHO on May 5, 2022 say that globally, the coronavirus resulted in a total excess death toll of 1.49 crore deaths. Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years.

With India accounting for an approximate 47,40,894 Covid deaths, this means that the country alone accounts for nearly a third of the world’s casualties!

These numbers are the result of a global collaboration supported by a technical advisory group and country consultations in line with several independent studies that claimed gross undercounting of deaths by India.

By December 2020, the data estimated 8.32 lakh deaths in India with the highest deaths reported in September 2020 (3.13 lakh deaths). Between January 2020 and December 2021, the highest deaths were reported in May 2021 (13.04 lakh deaths). Following India, are Russia (10,72,326 deaths) Indonesia (10,28,565 deaths), the US (9,32,458 deaths) and Brazil (6,81, 267 deaths).

“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.

Overall, 84 percent of excess deaths are concentrated in South-East Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Around 68 percent of excess deaths are concentrated in just 10 countries globally. Middle-income countries account for 81 percent of the 1.49 cr excess deaths. As many as 53 percent deaths were from the lower-middle-income countries and 28 percent deaths were from the upper-middle-income countries over the 24-month period.

Further, the WHO stated that the global death toll was higher for men than for women (57 percent male, 43 percent female) and higher among older adults.

Centre claims dubious methodology

Rejecting these data points, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare published a press release where it criticised the methodology adopted by the WHO to project excess mortality estimates.

“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. India had also informed WHO that 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,” it said.

The Ministry claimed that birth and death registrations in India are robust aspects of the administration. Earlier, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) carried out a survey in Varanasi and neighbouring areas and showed for rural India the registration system has fallen into disarray.

The government also claimed other inconsistencies in the criteria and assumptions used to classify countries into Tier I and II and questioned India’s position as a ‘Tier II’ country. It stressed 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,” said the Ministry.

The Union health ministry had, on the basis of data from states, documented 4,81,000 Covid-19 deaths during 2020 and 2021 as opposed to WHO estimates.

Meanwhile, WHO Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery Dr Samira Asma said, “These new estimates use the best available data and have been produced using a robust methodology and a completely transparent approach.”

Similarly, Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall stressed that data is the foundation for promoting health.“We know where the data gaps are, and we must collectively intensify our support to countries, so that every country has the capability to track outbreaks in real-time, ensure delivery of essential health services, and safeguard population health,” said Fall.

Related:

Covid numbers rise again: Don't panic, wear your masks!
India ranks high in cumulative excess Covid-deaths: Lancet report
Why does the Hippocratic oath need to be replaced with Charak Shapath?
In 2021, COVID Deaths Surged in Stunning Fashion in Eastern UP, Investigation Finds

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