India objects to WHO's methodology to calculate COVID-19 death toll
India has objected to the World Health Organization (WHO) methodology for calculating COVID-19 death toll.
India has objected to the World Health Organization (WHO) methodology for calculating COVID-19 death toll. In response to an article titled 'India Is Stalling the WHO's Efforts to Make Global Covid Death Toll Public' published by a US Daily, Union Health Ministry said, New Delhi has been in regular and in-depth technical exchange with the WHO on the issue of collecting and making public the COVID-19 death toll in the country.
It said the analysis while uses mortality figures directly obtained from Tier -I set of countries, uses a mathematical modelling process for Tier II countries which includes India.
The Ministry added that India's basic objection has not been with the result but rather the methodology adopted for the same.
It also said India has shared its concerns with the methodology along with the other Member States through a series of formal communications including six letters issued to WHO.
During these exchanges, specific queries have been raised by India along with the other Member States regarding the methodology, and use of unofficial sets of data.
The Ministry elaborated that the concern specifically includes on how the statistical model projects estimates for a country of geographical size and population of India and also fits in with other countries which have smaller population.
Such one size fit all approach and models which are true for smaller countries like Tunisia may not be applicable to India with a population of 1.3 billion. WHO is yet to share the confidence interval for the present statistical model across various countries.
It also said the model gives two highly different sets of excess mortality estimates of when using the data from Tier I countries and when using unverified data from 18 Indian States. Such wide variation in estimates raises concerns about validity and accuracy of such a modelling exercise.
India has asserted that if the model is accurate and reliable, it should be authenticated by running it for all Tier I countries and if the result of such exercise may be shared with all Member States.
The Health Ministry said, while India has remained open to collaborate with WHO as data sets like these will be helpful from the policy-making point of view, the country believes that in-depth clarity on methodology and clear proof of its validity are crucial for policymakers to feel confident about any use of such data.
It added that it is very surprising that while the newspaper purportedly could obtain the alleged figures of excess COVID19 mortality in respect to India, it was unable to learn the estimates for other countries.