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Health Ministry rejects claim international journal on Covid deaths

Jai Sood |

The Health and Family Welfare Ministry today refuted claims made in a reputed international journal which claimed COVID-19 mortality in India is higher than official counts.

The Ministry maintained that while mathematical modelling techniques may work for a small country, they would not work for a large, diverse population.

”The study takes into account different methodologies for different countries and India, for example, data sources used by this study appears to have been taken from newspaper reports and non-peer-reviewed studies,” the ministry said in a press release.
The study concluded that several Corona deaths between Jan 1, 2020, and Dec 31, 2021, totalled 5·94 million worldwide, but an estimated 18·2 million people died worldwide because of the COVID-19 pandemic during the same period. Such predictions are based on a certain set of inputs either based on real-world scenarios or approximations of those inputs that are not available. Often these studies rely on the small actual sample and extrapolate the result to the entire population.

Strangely, the methodology adopts data from newspapers at varied intervals to extrapolate (without any scientific basis) for the total period under study. The pandemic had multiple surges during the period and varied trajectories across different states at any point in time. Hence the methodology used by this study is less than robust, the Ministry said in its communiqué.

The Ministry has pointed out that even for the states where Civil Registration System was available, reported deaths during the pandemic has been compared with average reported deaths for the same period in the year 2018 and 2019. The study completely ignores India’s pandemic management efforts including lockdown, testing and contact tracing, etc.

The ministry has pointed out that authors have themselves admitted that ‘Direct measurement would be preferable to model excess mortality estimates not based on all-cause mortality data, which are usually more robust, from the locations themselves.’

The ministry highlighted the fact that the Researchers have themselves admitted that vaccines have considerably lowered mortality rates among people who contract the virus and among the general population. As a result, we expect trends in excess mortality due to COVID-19 to change over time as the coverage of vaccination increases among populations and as new variants emerge.