The World Health Organization (WHO) has been found wanting in its handling of Covid-19, right from Day One. Its recent report blaming India for the most gross underreporting of Covid-19 deaths is the latest proof of its ineptness, if not bias.
The WHO report claims that 4.7 million Indians died of Covid-19 between January 2020 and December 2021, nearly 10 times the official Government figures.
The report is preposterous. It not only amounts to accusing a responsible member of the United Nations of falsehood but also flies in the face of the lavish praise the Narendra Modi Government received worldwide for its handling of the pandemic.
No empirical evidence, just statistical jugglery
It is pertinent, therefore, that PM Modi said the WHO must be reformed to build a more resilient global health security architecture and especially called for streamlining of its approval process for vaccines and therapeutics to keep the supply chains stable and predictable. In his address at the second global Covid virtual summit on May 12, the PM highlighted New Delhi’s role in combating the coronavirus pandemic and said India’s genomics consortium has contributed to the global database of the virus.
According to the United Nations, India’s response to Covid-19 has been “robust and comprehensive”. The International Monetary Fund has found India’s handling “swift and substantial”. Even WHO’s India representative said: “Considering the magnitude of the population, it’s something the Government of India should be very, very proud of.”
Incidentally, the WHO’s report about grossly excessive deaths in India is not based on any empirical evidence but on statistical jugglery. The double standards adopted by the WHO smack of a vicious agenda to malign a country emerging as a credible healthcare hub in the pandemic.
The Modi Government is perfectly justified in rejecting it and questioning the very methodology adopted to reach such absurd conclusions. To begin with, the WHO adopted double standards in the categorization of the country data. It accepted data provided by a group of countries by putting them in Tier-1. Even countries like Iraq were accepted in this category.
Ironically it clubbed India, having the most robust system of mandatory registration of deaths through the Registrar General of India, with Tier-2 countries about which it used alternative data sources.
Based on this statistically unsound and scientifically questionable method, the WHO reached the weird conclusion that India topped the list of countries with maximum excessive deaths, which were ten times the official figures provided by the Registrar General of India.
On the contrary, if the WHO report is to be believed, China— which reports no data whatsoever on Covid-19 deaths and remains unquestioned by the WHO— accounts for only 19 excessive deaths, the lowest in the world…
The WHO’s claims about other countries fly blind when it comes to China – a nation that continues to hide the origin of the virus to date and makes a mockery of its zero-Covid policy by forcefully keeping its citizens under lockdown.
The rub is that the WHO not only used a faulty modeling approach to estimate death data for Tier2 countries like India but also consistently rejected India’s objection during the compilation and collection of data.