Constitute commission to analyse Covid-19 excess deaths, pay ₹4 lakh compensation: Congress

The Modi govt has let India down on the World Stage once again as the mismanagement of the Covid pandemic by the BJP government is not hidden from anyone, underscored Congress leader Gaurav Vallabh

File Photo
File Photo

NH Web Desk

After the WHO released its report on Covid-19 deaths pegging the number of Covid-19 deaths in India at around 47 lakh, which is the highest in the world, the Congress on Friday demanded the constitution of a Covid commission and a compensation of ₹4 lakh each to the families who lost their members in the pandemic.

The deaths, according to the report released on Thursday, could be directly due to the disease or indirectly caused by the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society. India’s Covid toll is approximately a third of the global death number, the report said.

Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh said, “Heeding to our demand for the last two years, the government must immediately form a Covid commission with members from all parties to analyze the deaths that happened due to unavailability of Oxygen, broken supply chain in case of vaccines and medicines and plan for better management during such pandemics and pay ₹4 lakh to the families of the people who have died due to Covid. If it can’t provide the medical care and facilities, this is the least the Modi government can do to pay respects.”

The Congress spokesperson said the apathetic attitude has been evident all along. “The nation saw people gasping for oxygen during the second wave… India was shamed at the world stage when pictures of the bodies floating were circulated in the International Media.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday had attacked the government over the WHO report which reported that there were 47 lakh (4.7 million) COVID-19 deaths in India, saying "science does not lie, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does".

In a tweet, he said, "47 lakh Indians died due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not 4.8 lakh as claimed by the Government. Science doesn't lie. Modi does". Gandhi also demanded that the government should support the families that have lost loved ones by giving them the mandated ₹4 lakh compensation.

During the COVID tragedy, said Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, when crores of people were pleading for oxygen, medicines, and hospital beds for their families, the government was focussing on “juggling” figures.

The Modi government has let India down on the World Stage once again as the mismanagement of the Covid pandemic by the BJP government is not hidden from anyone, underscored Vallabh. He asserted that a COVID commission is long overdue and asked “when the government would come out of its slumber”.

He said as per the government data, there have been only 5.24 lakh deaths due to Covid in India so far, but the few key points highlighted by the WHO report are that the world saw 1.49 crore excess deaths associated with the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. One in three deaths in the world due to Covid happened in India. India had 47 lakh deaths due to Covid-19 between January 2020 and December 2021.

Vallabh said amongst the nations with the highest ratio of excess deaths in 2020 and 2021 as compared to the official reported Covid-19 deaths, India is ranked second with a ratio of 9.9x, behind Egypt (11.6x) and ahead of Pakistan (8x) and almost half of the deaths that until now had not been counted globally were in India.

While the Modi government has been “chest-thumping” over its Covid management, the reality is far harsher than what the Centre wants us to believe, he said. The government must accept its “mismanagement” of the pandemic, Vallabh said, posing a series of questions.

The WHO estimate of Covid deaths in India is 10-times the official count, and the government has strongly rejected the figure and the methodology. In an official statement, the Union Health Ministry said that India had been consistently objecting to the methodology adopted by WHO to project excess mortality estimates based on mathematical models. “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,” the Health Ministry said.

India’s official Covid death toll is 4,81,486 between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021. The WHO report pegs Covid deaths in India at precisely 47,40,894 during 2020 and 2021. The coinciding pandemic death figure (described as excess mortality) globally is approximately 14.9 million—ranging between 13.3 million and 16.6 million.

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.

WHO said: “We consider the most complex sub-national scenario in which the number of regions with monthly data varies by month, using India as an example. For India, we use a variety of sources for the registered number of deaths at the state and union territory level. The information was either reported directly by the states through official reports and automatic vital registration, or by journalists who obtained death registration information through Right To Information requests.”

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