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Modi Lies, Not Science’: Rahul Gandhi On WHO Covid Deaths Report

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the government today over a WHO study of 4.7 million ‘extra’ Covid deaths, claiming that ‘science does not lie, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does.’ Mr Gandhi further requested that the government should help the families that have lost loved ones by granting them the statutory ? four lakh compensation. In a tweet, he said, ’47 lakh Indians died due to the Covid pandemic. NOT 4.8 lakh as claimed by the Govt. Science doesn’t LIE. Modi does. Respect families who’ve lost loved ones. Support them with the mandated ?4 lakh compensation,’ the former Congress chief said.

The BJP retaliated against the Congress politician, claiming that the WHO’s statistics and the Congress’ ‘beta’ (son) BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also stated at a news conference that Mr Gandhi has consistently attempted to harm Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image since 2014, hence harming India’s image. According to a report issued Thursday by WHO, there were 4.7 million ‘excess’ Covid fatalities in India between January 2020 and December 2021, which is 10 times the official figure and over a third of all Covid deaths worldwide.

According to the research, the worldwide count was 15 million, which was more than double the official figure of 6 million. India has fiercely criticised the WHO’s use of a mathematical model to compute the number of Covid fatalities, claiming that the ‘figure is completely disconnected from reality’. In its rejoinder, the Union health ministry labelled the WHO’s data gathering system ‘statistically unsound and scientifically doubtful,’ despite claiming that the country has a ‘very solid’ system of births and deaths registration.

‘In the case of India, this demonstrates a statistically flawed and scientifically dubious data gathering approach used to make excess mortality forecasts. Despite India’s objections to the process, methodology, and conclusion of this modelling effort, WHO has issued the excess mortality figures without fully addressing India’s concerns’, the ministry stated. Top health experts have also expressed disappointment over the global health body’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to arrive at the figure.

The WHO study was ‘worrisome,’ according to Dr NK Arora, head of India’s Covid Working Group. Mr Arora told NDTV this morning that, while there may be a 10-20 per cent mismatch, India’s sophisticated and reliable death registration system (known as the Civil Registration System, or CRS) guarantees that the vast majority of virus-related deaths are covered. Rejecting the WHO report, NITI Aayog Member (Health) V K Paul stated that India has informed WHO, with all humility, through diplomatic channels, facts, and sound reasoning, that it does not agree with the approach used for the nation. They employed an approach for various nations that are based on systematic data gathering on fatalities.

‘We have a comparable system, a solid Civil Registration System (CRS). We issued that data yesterday (Wednesday) and we have an exact count of deaths for 2020… the 2021 statistics will also come up,’ he told ANI. The Indian Civil Registration System gives precise estimates from the ground that are recognised and validated by the district and state administrations. ‘They must have utilised these numbers. Unfortunately, despite our explicit writing and conversation at the ministerial level, they have opted to utilise numbers based on modelling and assumptions’, Paul said.

‘Modeling is a one-size-fits-all assumption that may be used when the systems are deficient. But to make assumptions based on a portion of states and on stories that come from websites and media, and then you come out with an outrageous amount is not tenable. We are dissatisfied with WHO’s actions’, he said. ‘These types of assumptions utilized for a nation of India’s size “to show us in terrible light is not good,’ Mr. Paul remarked.

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