COVID-19

India objects methodology adopted by WHO to project excess mortality estimates of COVID death based on mathematical models

India has strongly objected the methodology adopted by World Health Organisation to project excess mortality estimates of COVID death based on mathematical models. Union Health Ministry in a statement said that despite India’s objection to the process, methodology and outcome of this modelling exercise, WHO has released the excess mortality estimates without adequately addressing India’s concerns. India had also informed WHO that in view of the availability of authentic data published through Civil Registration System (CRS) by Registrar General of India (RGI), mathematical models should not be used for projecting excess mortality numbers for India. The CRS data of 2020 published by RGI on 3rd of May clearly reveals that the narrative sought to be created by WHO based on various modelling estimates of India’s COVID-19 deaths being many times the reported figure is totally removed from reality.

The Health Ministry added that the data released by the CRS report-2020 was shared with WHO for preparation of excess mortality report. The Ministry added that despite communicating this data to WHO for supporting their publication, WHO chose to ignore the available data submitted by India and published the excess mortality estimates. Its methodology, source of data, and the outcomes has been consistently questioned by India.

The Ministry said that Registration of births and deaths in India is extremely robust and is governed by decades old statutory legal framework named Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1969. The Civil Registration data as well as Sample Registration data released annually by RGI has been used by a large number of researchers, policy makers and scientists both domestically and globally.

RGI is over a Century-old statutory organization and is assisted by Chief Registrars of States and UTs and about three lakhs Registrars and Sub-Registrars across the country. Based on reports submitted by states and UTs, the National reports – Vital Statistics of India based on Civil Registration System (CRS) are published annually by RGI. The last such National Report for the year 2019 was published in June 2021 and for the year 2020 has been published on 3rd of May this year. The Ministry added that India firmly believes that such robust and accurate data generated through Legal Framework of a Member State must be respected, accepted and used by WHO rather than relying on less than accurate mathematical projection based on non-official sources of data.

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