Fallacious, says govt on undercounting Covid deaths
July 22, 2021  13:40
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Refuting media reports that alleged India's COVID-19 death toll was "vastly undercounted", the government on Thursday said the reports assume that all excess mortality figures are Covid deaths, which is not based on facts and totally fallacious. 

 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, the Union Health Ministry said. There have been some recent media reports alleging that India's toll of excess deaths during the pandemic could be in millions, terming the official COVID-19 death toll "vastly undercounted", the ministry said in a statement. 

 In these news reports, quoting findings from some recent studies, the US and European countries' age-specific infection fatality rates have been used to calculate excess deaths in India based on the sero-positivity. 

 "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, dismissing the interplay between various direct and indirect factors such as race, ethnicity, genomic constitution of a population, previous exposure levels to other diseases and the associated immunity developed in that population," the statement said. 

 Furthermore, the sero-prevalence studies are not only used to guide strategy and measures to further prevent the spread of infection to the vulnerable population but are also used as another basis to extrapolate deaths. The studies also have another potential concern that the antibody titers may diminish over time, leading to underestimation of true prevalence and corresponding overestimation of infection fatality rate. 

 "Further, the reports assume that all the excess mortality figures are COVID-19 deaths, which is not based on facts and totally fallacious. Excess mortality is a term used to describe an all-cause mortality figure and attributing these deaths to COVID-19 is completely misleading," the statement said. India has a thorough contact-tracing strategy. 

All the primary contacts, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, are tested for COVID-19. The true detected cases are the ones that test positive with RT-PCR, which is the gold standard of COVID-19 test. -- PTI
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