New Delhi [India], July 27 (ANI): The Centre has been transparent in its approach to COVID data management and a robust system of recording all COVID-19 related deaths exists, the union health ministry said on Tuesday, responding to media reports that claimed that India's COVID death toll was as high as 3.3 million.
In a statement, the health ministry said that the media reports, that quoted three different databases "pointing towards at least 27 per cent excess mortality over a year," were based on a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study and were "totally fallacious."
"The report further 'concludes' that India's COVID death rate may be about 7-8 times higher than the officially reported toll and claims that 'most of these additional deaths are likely to have been due to COVID-19.' Such misinformed reports are totally fallacious," the health ministry said.
"The Union Government has been transparent in its approach to COVID data management, and a robust system of recording all COVID-19 related deaths already exists. All states and Union Territories have been entrusted with the responsibility to update the data on a continuous basis," it added.
The robustness of statute-based Civil Registration System (CRS) ensures all the births and deaths in the country get registered, the health ministry said, adding that the CRS follows a process of data collection, cleaning, collating and publishing the numbers which, although is a long drawn process, ensures no deaths are missed out.
"Because of the expanse and the amplitude of the activity, the numbers are usually published the next year," it said.
The Union Health Ministry has also been repeatedly advising States and UTs for the recording of deaths in accordance with laid down guidelines, the Centre said, adding that states have been advised to conduct thorough audits in their hospitals and report any cases or deaths that could have been missed with district and date-wise details so as to guide data-driven decision making.
As early as May 2020, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had also issued 'Guidance for appropriate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in India' for correct recording of all deaths by States/UTs as per ICD-10 codes recommended by WHO for mortality coding, the statement added.
"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," it said.
The statement added, "It is a well-known fact that there shall always be some differences in mortality recorded during a profound and prolonged public health crisis such as COVID pandemic. Well-conducted research studies on mortalities are usually done after the event when data on mortalities are available from reliable sources. The methodologies for such studies are well established, the data sources are defined as also the valid assumptions for computing mortality." (ANI)