India’s COVID-19 toll highest in the world, 10 times official figure

The World Health Organization on Monday classified a coronavirus mutation first detected in India as a "variant of concern" for global health
Meer Faisal/Maktoob

A new estimate by World Health Organisation says India accounts for almost a third of Covid deaths globally with a toll of 4.7 million — 10 times the official figure. According to data, the Covid pandemic has caused the deaths of nearly 15 million people around the world.

The WHO’s new estimate is more than twice the figures from individual governments’ reports showing about 6.2 million Covid deaths. The Indian government has questioned it, saying it has “concerns” about the methodology.

Indian government has disputed the estimate.

“Once we have this systematic data, we do not need to rely on modelling, extrapolations & taking press reports & utilising them for putting into a modelling exercise,” DG ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava told ANI.

WHO said the majority of the extra 9.5 million deaths seen above the 5.4 million Covid deaths reported were thought to be direct deaths caused by the virus, rather than indirect deaths.

Apart from India, countries with the highest total excess deaths included Russia, Indonesia, USA, Brazil, Mexico and Peru.

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

The estimate is lower than one from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which calculated that the pandemic had killed 18.2 million people.