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“Completely Misleading”: Indian Govt Rejects “Vastly Undercounted” Covid Deaths

A US research group on Tuesday said India’s coronavirus death toll is up to 10 times higher than the nearly 415,000 fatalities reported by authorities.

The Indian government on Thursday, while refuting media reports that alleged India’s COVID-19 death count was “vastly undercounted”, said the reports assume that all excess mortality figures are Covid deaths, which is not based on facts and totally fallacious.

The Union Health Ministry said that given the robust and statute-based death registration system in India, while some cases could go undetected as per the principles of infectious disease and its management, missing out on the deaths is unlikely.

The ministry in its statement said there have been some recent media reports alleging that India’s tally of excess deaths during the pandemic could be in millions, terming the official COVID-19 death count “vastly undercounted”.

“The extrapolation of deaths has been done on an audacious assumption that the likelihood of any given infected person dying is the same across countries, dismissing the interplay between various direct and indirect factors such as race, ethnicity, genomic constitution of a population, previous exposure levels to other diseases and the associated immunity developed in that population,” the statement said.

“Further, the reports assume that all the excess mortality figures are COVID-19 deaths, which is not based on facts and totally fallacious. Excess mortality is a term used to describe an all-cause mortality figure and attributing these deaths to COVID-19 is completely misleading,” the statement added.

A US research group on Tuesday said India’s coronavirus death toll is up to 10 times higher than the nearly 415,000 fatalities reported by authorities. If the numbers estimated by the study are accurate, it would be the country’s worst humanitarian disaster since independence.

The Center for Global Development study’s estimate is the highest for the South Asian country of 1.3 billion people battered by the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic fuelled by Delta Variant.

After analysing the data from the start of the pandemic to June this year, the study suggested that between 3.4 million and 4.7 million people had died from the virus.

“True deaths are likely to be in the several millions, not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India’s worst human tragedy since partition and independence,” the researchers said.

India’s official death toll of just over 414,000 is the third highest after the United States’ 609,000 fatalities and Brazil’s 542,000.

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