Highlights

  • India calls out New York Times report on Covid death toll
  • India questions WHO methodology of calculating deaths
  • NYT claimed WHO's research was stalled by India

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Decoded: India rubbishes NYT article on Covid death toll calculation by WHO

The NYT claimed, more than one-third of the additional nine million deaths are estimated to have occurred in India, adding that, WHO estimates show that India's death toll is at least 4 million, eight times the official numbers.

The govt of India has given a point-by-point rebuttal to the New York Times, which in a recent article claimed that India stalled the World Health Organisation's efforts to make the global Covid death toll public.

The NYT article claimed that an ambitious effort by the WHO to calculate the global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has found that vastly more people died than previously believed - a total of 15 million by end of 2021, more than double the official total of 6 million reported by countries individually.

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The NYT claimed, more than one-third of the additional nine million deaths are estimated to have occurred in India, adding that, WHO estimates show that India's death toll is at least 4 million, eight times the official numbers.

India's official statistics put the death toll due to Covid at 5,21,965 till April 18, 2022.

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The NYT report further said, "the result of more than a year of research and analysis by experts around the world .... has been delayed for months because of objections from India, which disputed the calculation of how many of its citizens died and has tried to keep it from becoming public"

In a detailed press release, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said, it had regular and in-depth technical consultations with the WHO on the issue of Covid death toll.

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India has questioned the World Health Organisation's methodology to estimate Covid-19 mortalities in the country. The govt has argued that mathematical modelling cannot be applied to estimate the mortality figures for a nation of such vast geographical size and population.

The govt said, the WHO calculation is based on unverified data from 18 Indian states, which raises questions about the accuracy of such a modelling exercise.

The ministry further said, that the assumption of an inverse relationship between monthly temperature and monthly average deaths does not have any scientific backing to establish such a peculiar empirical relationship.

This is not the first time that questions have been raised on the WHO's calculations. The govt says, India, along with other WHO member states like China, Bangladesh, Iran and Syria, also raised specific queries regarding the methodology.

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The Health Ministry said, "India has shared its concerns about methodology with the WHO via 6 letters and virtual meetings.... but is yet to get a satisfactory response from the World Health Organisation over the concerns it has raised."

India maintains that it is open to collaborating with the WHO over such data sets which are helpful for policy making, but added that in-depth clarity and clear proof of its validity are equally crucial for policy makers.

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