Growth in death registration in 2020 not fully due to Covid fatalities: NITI Aayog VK Paul

The increase in death registration in 2020 compared to 2019 is not solely attributable to Covid fatalities, and that "exorbitant" multiples of coronavirus deaths being publicised by various authorities with respect to India must stop, Niti Aayog member VK Paul said.

For instance, Paul, who is also the head of the COVID-19 Task Force, cited a recent Lancet article claiming that India's predicted cumulative Covid deaths between January 2020 and December 2021 were more than eight times greater than previously reported.

The Lancet reported in a paper titled 'Estimating excess mortality owing to the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review of COVID-19-related mortality, 2020-21' that the number of documented deaths attributed to the Covid in India during that time period was around 4,89,000. It also claimed that India had the most estimated total excess fatalities owing to Covid during the time, at 4.07 million.

On Tuesday, the government released the Civil Registration System (CRS) report 2020, which is based on birth and death records. 

According to the RGI's report 'Vital Statistics of India based on the Civil Registration System' for 2020, the number of registered deaths increased by 6.2 percent from 76.4 lakh in 2019 to 81.2 lakh in 2020. "Now that we have an actual count of excess deaths from all causes, there is no reason to use modeling-driven estimates based on pure conjectures and assumptions". Paul refuted claims that India is systematically underreporting deaths during the outbreak. Death registration increased by 4.75 lakh in 2020, according to CRS, compared to 2019.

Paul pointed out that there was 6.9 lakh extra deaths in 2019 compared to the previous year. The findings of the CRS study are significant in light of India's recent findings of the WHO's methodology for estimating Covid mortalities in the country, claiming that such mathematical modelling cannot be used to estimate death figures for such a large and populous country.

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