WHO: India’s Covid Death Toll Estimated At Around 4 Million

By Sonal Nain, 20 Apr 2022

An impending WHO investigation reportedly determines India’s true covid death toll much higher than official estimates. According to WHO’s in-depth study of the data, the total covid death is more than 4 million, which would be by far the highest country death toll in the world, and is approximately eight times the official figure given by the Indian government which stands at 5.2 lakhs. 

India issued a statement criticising WHO’s methodology, claiming that the methods used for smaller countries cannot be applied to India’s 1.3 billion people.

Prabhat Jha, Director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, was the lead author of a study that estimated India’s total Covid death toll at more than 3.2 million. He also reviewed the WHO’s covid death report and stated that the WHO used data from 17 states using the government’s own civil registration data, and they used the excess to those deaths that are recorded in those 17 states to make estimates for the remaining states. The model has some broad parameters, such as how many deaths to expect on specific days.

He spoke to Mojo Story and said that the difference in the covid death number is due to the underlying problem in India, which is that many deaths in India are simply not registered, “India has approximately 10 million people deaths a year, 3 million of them are unregistered, and 8 million do not have a proper death certificate, making it impossible to determine the cause of death. This is a long-standing issue.”

Mr Jha said that in the absence of good government routine data, we relied on three data sources: a national survey conducted in collaboration with Cvoter, data source, that is India’s government hospital data and civil registration data that was restricted to only ten states. 

During the pandemic, in rural areas, bodies are simply disposed of, cremated or buried before any kind of registration could take place, “The government was terrified and didn’t know what to do, so it’s a natural reaction for any political party to tell their officers, “Don’t give me any more problems, we’re already in a bad situation.” As a result, this encouraged the underreporting or ignoring of very likely covid deaths.”

Concerning the WHO report, he stated that science is uncertain, and every study has limitations, but the sum of all studies usually points to the correct conclusions, and the signal here was that the number of deaths was so large that even a crude system would provide a reasonably accurate answer, “Except for the government of India’s data source, various data sources show that number.”

According to WHO guidelines, you should include tested deaths, confirmed covid cases, and suspected deaths when compiling national totals, “but India didn’t include that. “


Watch the full conversation below.