Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Dr Balram Bhargava. (PTI Image)
New Delhi: After World Health Organization's (WHO) excess mortality estimates for COVID, the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Dr Balram Bhargava on Thursday said the country has systemic data pool and it does not need to rely on "modelling, extrapolations and press reports" for ascertaining COVID-related death.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Bhargava said, "When we had COVID deaths occurring, we did not have a definition of deaths. Even WHO did not have one. If one gets positive today and dies after two weeks, will it be COVID death? Or the dies after two months or six months - will it be COVID death?"
"So, for that definition, we looked at all the data and we came to the conclusion that 95 per cent of the deaths that occurred after testing positive for COVID-19 were occurring in the first 4 weeks. So, a cut-off of 30 days was laid for the definition of death," he stated.
DR Bhargava laid emphasis on systemic data instead of modelling exercises to ascertain COVID deaths.
"We have such large amounts of data. We have data of more than 97-98 per cent of 1.3 billion who have been vaccinated with the first dose and nearly 190 crores vaccine doses have been used. So, all that is systematically collected. Once we have this systematic data, we do not need to rely on modelling, extrapolations and taking press reports and utilising them for putting into a modelling exercise," stressed DG ICMR.
New estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million).
According to the WHO report, more than 4.7 million people in India are thought to have died because of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, India has strongly objected to the use of mathematical models by the WHO for projecting excess mortality estimates concerning coronavirus and has said that authentic data is available.
Refererring to excess mortality estimates, the Health Ministry said in a statement that the validity and robustness of the models used and methodology of data collection are questionable.