Home/ News / India/  From AIIMS director to Niti Aayog member, top India's experts reject WHO's Covid death data

The World Health Organization (WHO)'s claims that more than 47 lakh people have died due to Covid-19 in India are flawed, the top medical experts have claimed, including NITI Aayog's Dr VK Paul and AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria.

Some of the top health experts in India have questioned the modelling methodology used by the UN agency and said it is disappointed with its ''one-size-fits-all'' approach.

Centre's NITI Aayog head Dr Paul lashed out at the WHO for projecting excess Covid-related mortality estimates.

"Unfortunately, despite our emphatic writing, rational communication at the ministerial level, they have chosen to use the number that is based on modelling assumptions-- one size fits all kind of assumptions," he told ANI news agency.

"India has been telling WHO via diplomatic channels with data that we don't agree with the methodology followed for us," he added.

However, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General said, "Once we have this systematic data, we do not need to rely on modelling, extrapolations and taking press reports and utilising them for putting into a modelling exercise."

AIIMS Hospital, Delhi Director Randeep Guleria also opposed WHO's approach for counting the excess deaths. Guleria told ANI news agency, "I have objections and I will give three reasons for that. India has a very robust system of birth and death registration which has been going on for decades. We know it works very well and that data is available".

"Secondly-- data that WHO used is more on hearsay evidence-- what's there in media or unconfirmed sources. That data is questionable. Modelling on that data isn't the correct," the AIIMS Director added.

Giving the last reason Dr Guleria said India has been very liberal in offering compensation for people who died of Covid, that is, there is a very open manner.

"So, even if there were excessive deaths that were COVID related, they would have been recorded because people would have come forward, and their relatives would have come forward for compensation. This has not been the case as far as the numbers that WHO is predicting," said AIIMS Director.

According to the WHO's statement on Thursday, May 5, more than 47 lakh people died due to Covid-19 in India from 2020 to 2021, nearly 10 times the official figure shared by the Union Ministry of Health.

The death toll associated with Covid-19 directly or indirectly may have climbed to almost 1.5 crore between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 across the globe, the WHO has said.

The figure is almost three times the official count (5 lakh) of deaths directly attributable to Covid-19 and reported to WHO in that period.

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Updated: 06 May 2022, 09:59 AM IST
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