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International magazine claiming India suffered 5-7 times more Covid-19 deaths is baseless speculation: Health Ministry on claims by The Economist

British-media outlet Economist had published an article titled, "More evidence emerges of India’s true death toll from Covid-19", in which it had claimed their surveys had corroborated earlier estimates that the number of Covid-19 deaths in India is some six times higher.

After the UK-based media outlet The Economist came up with a dubious reach claiming that India has suffered perhaps five to seven times excess Covid-19 deaths than the official data, the Indian government on Saturday categorically stated that the claims are completely baseless and termed the report as ‘speculative’.

On Saturday, The Economist had published an article titled, “More evidence emerges of India’s true death toll from Covid-19”, in which it had claimed their surveys had estimated that the number of Covid-19 deaths in India is around six times higher.

The so-called research article cited by the magazine is a study supposedly done by a person named Christopher Laffler of Virginia Commonwealth University. In the article, the research claimed that based on excess mortality rates, the pandemic-related mortality through the first 19 weeks of 2021 in the six Indian regions was 131.5 to 181.8 per 100,000 population.

“If these rates apply to India as a whole, then between 1.78 to 2.46 million people may have perished in India as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic by the 19th week of 2021. This mortality exceeds the known mortality in every other country in the world,” the report read.

Here is a tweet by the author of the article Christopher Laffler, according to whom more than two million people may have died in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to the Economist article estimating the higher deaths, the Union Health Ministry, in an official statement on Saturday, said that the article estimating higher deaths in India than the official number of Covid-19 fatalities was nothing but speculation and said that such a report has no basis. The government said that the author seems to be misinformed.

“The unsound analysis of the said article is based on extrapolation of data without any epidemiological evidence. Studies which are used by the magazine as an estimate of excess mortality are not validated tools for determining mortality rate of any country or region,” the statement further said.

Government follows ICMR guidelines for recording COVID deaths

The Indian government also reiterated it follows ICMR guidelines as recommended by WHO to avoid any inconsistency regarding the number of Covid-19 related fatalities.

Asserting that the Indian government has been following a transparent approach to record Covid-19 related data, the Health Ministry said it follows the Indian Council of Medical Research’s guidelines for recording COVID deaths as recommended by WHO.

“As early as May 2020, to avoid inconsistency in the number of deaths being reported, Indian Council of Medical Research has issued ‘Guidance for the appropriate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in India’ for correct recording of all deaths as per ICD-10 codes recommended by WHO for mortality coding,” the Government of India said in its rebuttal.

Further, it stated that “States and UTs have been urged through formal communications, multiple video conferences and through the deployment of Central teams for correct recording of deaths in accordance with laid down guidelines”.

Union Health Ministry also said that they also regularly emphasised the need for a robust reporting mechanism for monitoring district wise cases and deaths daily.

“States consistently reporting lower number of daily deaths were told to re-check their data. A case in point is the Union Government writing to the State of Bihar to provide detailed date and district wise break-up of the reconciled number of deaths to Union Health Ministry,” it said in a statement.

Western media unleashes false propaganda to discredit India’s Covid-19 success story

As India battles the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, western media outlets have unleashed a concerted campaign to discredit the Indian government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic. In an effort to humiliate and discredit the country in the global media, the western media has come up with dubious research to imagine higher deaths in the country.

India, which has so far put up a brave fight against the Chinese pandemic, is also coping with a massive misinformation war initiated by the global left-liberal establishment.

A few weeks back, controversial left-wing US media outlet New York Times had come up with imaginary numbers, claiming that India’s actual Covid-19 death numbers are exponentially more than the officially published numbers. The NYT had predicted that India’s death numbers range between 6 lakh to 42 lakh, against the official number of 3 lakh.

The article by Lazaro Gamio and James Glanz had estimated that the total Covid-19 cases in the country should be 40 crores to 70 crores, while the official number is 2.7 crore. NYT had claimed that India’s Covid-19 positive and death numbers are highly under-reported. The low death rate in the country has become a major concern for the western press, who are trying hard to depict India in a bad light.

However, the entire analysis done in the article was based on ‘estimates’ based on randomly selected numbers, and it did not explain why and how those estimates were made.

Nevertheless, it seems like the Indian government has finally decided to take on the misinformation warfare being propagated by a certain section of western media by providing them factual and logical explanations.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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