Nearly 15 mn deaths globally linked to Covid; maximum deaths in India, says WHO, govt refutes its figures

While WHO says, "there were 4.7 mn excess Covid deaths in India, that's 10 times the official figures and almost a third of Covid deaths globally", India insists the figure is removed from reality

File Photo
File Photo

NH Web Desk

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that almost 15 million deaths globally were directly or indirectly associated with the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of 2021.

According to the WHO's estimates, the full Covid-19 death toll, or "excess mortality," was approximately 14.9 million between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021. This figure 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, Xinhua news agency reported.

Aside from the deaths directly caused by Covid-19, the "indirect deaths" were attributable to other health conditions for which people were unable to access prevention and treatment, because health systems were overburdened by the pandemic.

The WHO said most of the excess deaths -- 84 per cent -- were concentrated in South-East Asia, Europe and the Americas, and some 68 percent in just ten countries globally. Middle-income countries accounted for 81 percent of the 14.9 million excess deaths, while high-income and low-income countries each accounted for 15 and 4 per cent, respectively.

The global death toll was higher for men (57 per cent) than for women (43 per cent) and higher among older adults.

"These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

While the WHO has claimed in the report that "there were 4.7 million excess Covid deaths in India- that's 10 times the official figures and almost a third of Covid deaths globally", India has alleged that the "figure is totally removed from reality", reported NDTV.

India has officially recorded more than half a million deaths due to the novel coronavirus until now. It reported 481,000 Covid deaths between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021, but the WHO's estimates put the figure at nearly ten times as many. They suggest India accounts for almost a third of Covid deaths globally. Almost half of the deaths that until now had not been counted globally were in India, says WHO report.

Questioning the validity of the models used by the WHO, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was quoted by NDTV as saying, "India has consistently questioned WHO's own admission that data in respect of seventeen Indian states was obtained from some websites and media reports and was used in their mathematical model. This reflects a statistically unsound and scientifically questionable methodology of data collection for making excess mortality projections in case of India."

The statement added, "WHO for reasons best known to them conveniently chose to ignore the available data submitted by India."

However, WHO's defence for using a mathematical model is their claim that many countries "still lack capacity for reliable mortality surveillance and therefore do not collect and generate the data needed to calculate excess mortality".

(With inputs from IANS)

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