Coronavirus LIVE: Health ministry denies under-reporting of pandemic deaths

Healthcare workers attend to a Covid-19 patient in an ICU ward of a government hospital in Mumbai. Photo: Bloomberg

Healthcare workers attend to a Covid-19 patient in an ICU ward of a government hospital in Mumbai. Photo: Bloomberg

The health ministry on Thursday denied that the Covid-19 toll in India was vastly undercounted, insisting that the country had a robust system of calculating deaths. 

The health ministry said, “Given the robust and statute-based Death Registration System in India, while some cases could go undetected as per the principles of Infectious Disease and its management, missing out on the deaths is unlikely.” It said that the Civil Registration System ensures all the births and deaths in the country get registered.

The government statement said age-specific infection fatality rates of US and European countries had been used to calculate excess deaths in India based on the sero-positivity in these studies.

“The extrapolation of deaths has been done on an audacious assumption that the likelihood of any given infected person dying is the same across countries,” it said.

India has officially reported 418,987 deaths from Covid till July 22, the third highest toll in the world.

In another development, China on Thursday rejected a World Health Organization (WHO) plan for a second phase of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, which includes the hypothesis it could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, a top health official said. 

“We will not accept such an origins-tracing plan as it, in some aspects, disregards common sense and defies science,” Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the Health Commission (NHC), told reporters. 

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