100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
India insists WHO is wrong about Covid deaths. What do the numbers say?
The health and family welfare ministry issued a statement on May 5 disputing the World Health Organisation’s estimate of Covid…
The bitter dispute over India’s pandemic mortality
The ‘modelling’ that the Government is objecting to is largely simple data analysis and techniques for filling data gaps
India records mild dip in Covid-19 cases, reports 2,288 fresh Covid-19 cases in last 24 hours
The country reported 3,044 recoveries and 10 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the updated Health Ministry data
N.Korea reports first COVID-19 death as fever spreads 'explosively'
At least one person confirmed to have COVID-19 has died in North Korea and hundreds of thousands have shown fever…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
There is no getting past the pandemic till we credibly count COVID-19 deaths
Indian statisticians and modellers are equal to any in the world. The government could easily set up a panel of…
Inconvenient truth: Why the Modi govt is choosing ‘denial’ as its response to WHO’s Covid death toll
On May 5, the World Health Organisation finally bit the bullet and published its report on excess deaths associated with…
Get all your news in one place
Latest Comment news:
Editorial: To Stabilize Employment, Trust the Market
Reforms must be implemented to tackle the challenges ahead, and provide desirable jobs for the majority of the population
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
America’s billionaire class is funding anti-democratic forces
Billionaire donors are pushing an unsettling agenda for America – backing Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, calling…
After the election I feel something new, a tiny brightness between hope and relief
What makes this feeling significant? There’s finally an objective, statistically significant reason to be optimistic
Trip to Madrid shows that living in a high-density suburb can deliver a good life
Creating good high-density urban liveability is all in the delivery
Labor now has the chance to act with gusto on climate policy
Australia needs a far more ambitious agenda than the one Anthony Albanese took to the election
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
For the sake of his party, Tudge must go, and quickly
Alan Tudge should leave politics and allow Josh Frydenberg to take his seat. His party needs it and the nation…
Australia’s Big Lie (from the right): Morrison went too far left
No one who lost a seat this election did so to a more right-wing candidate. But key conservatives are claiming…

Engage, not dismiss: On India’s response to WHO’s COVID-19 deaths report

The release of a report by WHO that estimates excess deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic to be nearly 10 times the reported COVID-19 death toll of 4.8 lakh in India between January 2020 and December 2021, the highest for any country, is not surprising. The pandemic did not just contribute to a surge in disease-related mortality, especially of the aged and the infirm, but also disrupted health systems that could have resulted in many other avoidable deaths. A robust estimation of the excess deaths was necessary to understand the pandemic effect in India where death registration after occurrence is not universal across States and medical certification of deaths is quite low in number. The Government has strongly denied the numbers and dismissed the methodology by saying that the WHO approach is based on modelled estimates and not actual data. It countered it by finally releasing the Civil Registration System report for 2020 (two days prior to the release of the WHO report) and saying that the cumulative increase in the number of deaths in 2020 was only 4.74 lakh, lower than the corresponding number for 2019. While most deaths — close to two thirds — occurred during the second wave in India from March to June 2021 (and later in some States such as Kerala), and therefore the late release of the CRS 2020 report does not entirely negate the WHO estimates that are based on registered deaths data available from “sub-national” units, there is indeed a discrepancy for 2020 data.

The WHO estimates for States were based on CRS registration data obtained by news organisations — the bulk of them by The Hindu. For 2020, cumulatively, the excess deaths estimations (close to 5.5 lakh for 12 States) for most such States for which data were obtained, match the CRS 2020 calculations (5.3 lakh). Discrepancies are quite high for those States where CRS data were only partially or not available earlier. A case in point is Uttar Pradesh where death (8.73 lakh in 2020 vs 9.45 lakh in 2019) and birth registrations (48.5 in 2020 vs 51.3 lakh in 2019) fell significantly and therefore skewed the overall country-wide excess deaths numbers. But without the release of the Sample Registration System data, it is difficult to believe that in States such as U.P., there has been an increase in registration levels even while there is a decrease in actual birth and death registration. The NFHS-5 2021 interviews show that death registration in 2020 was lower than previous years as opposed to the Government’s claims based on CRS 2020. The Government must not dismiss the WHO estimates and should instead look at undertaking its own exercise on excess deaths based on registration data in the CRS/SRS. After all, other methods, including surveys, have corroborated the fact that there was a high under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic.

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
India insists WHO is wrong about Covid deaths. What do the numbers say?
The health and family welfare ministry issued a statement on May 5 disputing the World Health Organisation’s estimate of Covid…
The bitter dispute over India’s pandemic mortality
The ‘modelling’ that the Government is objecting to is largely simple data analysis and techniques for filling data gaps
India records mild dip in Covid-19 cases, reports 2,288 fresh Covid-19 cases in last 24 hours
The country reported 3,044 recoveries and 10 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the updated Health Ministry data
N.Korea reports first COVID-19 death as fever spreads 'explosively'
At least one person confirmed to have COVID-19 has died in North Korea and hundreds of thousands have shown fever…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
There is no getting past the pandemic till we credibly count COVID-19 deaths
Indian statisticians and modellers are equal to any in the world. The government could easily set up a panel of…
Inconvenient truth: Why the Modi govt is choosing ‘denial’ as its response to WHO’s Covid death toll
On May 5, the World Health Organisation finally bit the bullet and published its report on excess deaths associated with…
Get all your news in one place