'Disappointed': Health Minister on WHO's Report of Excess COVID Deaths in India

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya made these comments while addressing the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.
The Quint

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. 


(Photo: PTI)

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.&nbsp;</p></div>

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, while addressing the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Switzerland's Geneva on Monday, 23 May, said that India was disappointed with the manner in which the World Health Organization (WHO) prepared and published a report claiming that India witnessed millions of excess COVID-19 deaths.

"India would like to express its disappointment over the manner in which the report by the WHO on all-cause excess mortality was prepared and published, ignoring the concern expressed by India and other countries over the methodology and sources of data, setting aside the country-specific authentic data from the statutory authority of India," Mandaviya said.

The WHO had said on 5 May that India's death toll due to COVID-19 was actually 10 times higher than the official figure, with 4.7 million excess deaths in the country.

Mandaviya further said that the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare (CCHFW), a constitutional body comprising health ministers from all Indian states, had passed a unanimous resolution, asking him to convey their "collective disappointment" in this regard.

Speaking on the accessibility to vaccines against COVID-19, Mandaviya said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had highlighted the need to build a "resilient global supply chain to enable equitable access to vaccines and medicines, streamlining the WHO's approval process for vaccines, therapeutics and reforms."

The union minister also added that India was willing to play a role in this regard, as well as to strengthen the WHO to achieve a more "resilient" global health architecture.

What Did the WHO Report Say?

The WHO had said that several countries had not counted COVID-19 deaths properly.

"Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years," the WHO had said in its report.

"Excess mortality includes deaths associated with COVID-19 directly (due to the disease) or indirectly (due to the pandemic's impact on health systems and society). Deaths linked indirectly to COVID-19 are attributable to other health conditions for which people were unable to access prevention and treatment because health systems were overburdened by the pandemic," the report read.

At the time, the Union Health Ministry had rebutted the WHO's use of a mathematical model to calculate the number of COVID-19 deaths, saying that the "figure is totally removed from reality."

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