'Completely baseless and false': Centre on NYT report on COVID deaths in India

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday dismissed as “completely baseless” a recent New York Times report on Covid toll in India, saying it is not backed by any evidence.

At a press conference, the Union health ministry said the report is absolutely false and based on “distorted estimates”.

The NYT report titled ‘Just how big could India’s true Covid toll be’ on Wednesday contradicted India’s official Covid death toll count of just about 3.115 lakh deaths stressing it may be a result of gross underreporting while that the actual deaths could be 6 lakh as per a conservative estimate, 16 lakh as per a likely scenario and 42 lakh in the worse scenario.

The report said that the estimated number of total deaths was arrived at after consultations with experts and analyzing cases and death counts over a period of time.

The Union government however dismissed the assumptions totally.

“This entire report is baseless and false. We don’t know on what basis this estimation work was done. We have robust system in place, which states are following and reporting,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the Union ministry of health and family welfare in a press briefing on Wednesday.

VK Paul, the chairman of the national Covid task force said that  every country has its infection estimate, which is also coming out from their sero-survey. “

“Our serosurvey had shown that the actual infection mortality could be 0.05 %–so what basis has this news reports calculated by imaginary mortality rates of 0.3 and 0.6 %?” he asked.

He also said that there are sample registration surveys and civic registration systems in place in India and it will throw light on the actual deaths—once these reports are compiled and analyzed.