BJP fumes over Rahul Gandhi’s ‘science doesn’t lie, Modi does’ tweet; experts slam ‘untenable’ approach

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Reported By:| Edited By: |Source: |Updated: May 06, 2022, 02:22 PM IST

WHO’s access deaths estimate makes India the worst-affected country in the world.

New Delhi: The World Health Organization’s (WHO) report that claimed 47 lakh Indians died due to the coronavirus pandemic till December 2021 — an estimate 10 times the official figure — has triggered a political storm in India. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, one of the harshest critics of the BJP-led Central government’s handling of the pandemic, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of lying to the nation. “Science doesn’t lie, Modi does,” he quipped, drawing an angry reaction from the BJP.

“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 Rs 4 lakh compensation,” Gandhi tweeted on Friday.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, responding to Gandhi’s jibe, said the Congress leader has been trying to tarnish Modi’s image since 2014, and in the process, has tarnished the country’s global image. “The WHO’s data and the Congress’ beta (son)n are wrong,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency PTI. 

The WHO said that almost 15 million excess deaths were recorded during the pandemic until 2021. Around 84 percent of these deaths were recorded in South-East Asia, Europe and the Americas. 10 countries account for 68 percent of these deaths.

WHO’s estimate makes India the worst-affected country in the world. 

The health ministry has objected to the methodology used by WHO to come up with the figure. 

“Despite India’s objection to the process, methodology, and outcome of this modelling exercise, the WHO has released the excess mortality estimates without adequately addressing India’s concerns. India had also informed the WHO that in view of the availability of authentic data published through the Civil Registration System (CRS) by Registrar General of India (RGI), mathematical models should not be used for projecting excess mortality numbers for India,” it said.

Meanwhile, India’s top health officials have dismissed the report as “untenable and unfortunate”. Accusing the WHO of adopting what they described as a “one-size-fits-all” approach, they said they were disappointed with the global health body’s approach.

NITI Aayog member, Dr VK Paul, said WHO has used a methodology for several nations based on a systematic collection of data on deaths. 

“We have a similar system, a robust Civil Registration System (CRS). We released that report yesterday (Wednesday) and we have an actual count of deaths for 2020… The 2021 numbers will also come up,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency PTI. 

“We want them to have used these numbers. Unfortunately, despite our emphatic writing and communication at the ministerial level, they have chosen to use the numbers that are based on modelling and assumptions…Modelling is a one-size-fits-all kind of assumption and you may apply it where the systems are poor. But to apply assumptions based on a subset of states and on reports that come from websites and media, and then you come out with an exorbitant number is not tenable. We are disappointed with what WHO has done,” he added. 

The NTAGI’s COVID-19 Working Group Chairman, Dr N K Arora, described the WHO report as very unfortunate.

“India has performed unexpectedly well in COVID-19 management. In fact, many prestigious journals in the world had predicted doom for India,” he said.

“They thought India will just collapse both as a nation as well as an economy and as a health system. But it never happened because we as a country came together and managed it very well” he added.

Dr Randeep Guleria also raised objections to the WHO report.

“I’ll give three broad reasons for that. One is that India has a very robust system of birth and death registration and that data is available. WHO has not used that data.

“The second important issue is the data that WHO used is more hearsay evidence or what has been there in the media or from unconfirmed sources. That data itself is questionable. To do modelling on that data is not correct and it’s not scientifically right, especially when you have data,” he said.

He claimed India has been very liberal while providing compensation to the kin of COVID victims. “So, even if there were excess Covid-related deaths, they would have been recorded because people would have come forward for compensation,” he added. 

With inputs from PTI

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Originally published at www.dnaindia.com

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