'We've been transparent': Centre dismisses study which put India's 'real' toll due to Covid-19 at 2.7-3.3 million

Published on Jul 27, 2021 04:16 PM IST

In a press release, the central government said there already exists a robust system to record all deaths due to Covid-19.

Exhausted workers, who bring dead bodies for cremation, sit on the rear step of an ambulance inside a crematorium, in New Delhi on April 24 (AP)
Exhausted workers, who bring dead bodies for cremation, sit on the rear step of an ambulance inside a crematorium, in New Delhi on April 24 (AP)
By | Written by Karan Manral, New Delhi

The Union government on Tuesday responded to a report which claimed there have been at least 2.7-3.3 million deaths in India due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) till now, stating in a press release it has been “transparent” in its approach related to Covid-19 data management, according to news agency ANI.

Also Read | 2.7-3.3 million Covid-19 deaths in India: Study

"It is clarified that the Union government has been transparent in its approach to Covid-19 data management and a robust system of recording all Covid-19 related deaths already exists. All states and union territories have been entrusted with the responsibility to update the data on a continuous base," the release read. It also dismissed as "totally fallacious" the study's conclusion of the country's "actual" toll due to the coronavirus disease being "7-8 times higher than the official toll."

The statement further said the robustness of the statute-based Civil Registration System (CRS) ensures all the births and deaths in the country get registered. "The CRS follows process of data collection, cleaning, collating and publishing the numbers which, though a long-drawn process, ensures no deaths are missed out. Because of the expanse and amplitude of the activity, the numbers are usually published the next year," it said.

The release also mentioned Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) "Guidance for appropriate recording of Covid-19 related deaths in India" which, it said, was released last May to avoid any confusion or inconsistency in the number of fatalities being reported.

"During the peak of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, in April and May, recording of Covid-19 deaths could have been delayed as health infrastructure was focused on cases requiring medical help. However, these were later reconciled by states and Union territories," the government explained.

The aforementioned study was authored by Dr Prabhat Jha from the Centre for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto and Dr Paul Novosad from the department of economics at the Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, United States. A separate report, co-authored by India's former chief economic advisor, Arvind Subramanian, projected as many as "4.9 million excess fatalities" during the pandemic.

Also Read | India's excess deaths during Covid-19 pandemic up to 4.9 million: Study

Officially, the country has registered 421,382 fatalities till now including 415 in the last 24 hours, according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW). About half of the total deaths took place in April and May this year, as per data shared by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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