NEW DELHI: Amid controversy over undercounting of Covid-19 deaths, the Centre on Thursday yet reiterated that it has always advised states to conduct death audits in their hospitals and report any cases or deaths that could have been missed.
“India follows ICMR guidelines based on WHO-recommended ICD-10 codes for correct recording of all Covid-19 deaths,” the Centre said. About 4 lakh deaths have been confirmed due to Covid in India so far, but some researchers estimate the actual figure could be between 25-50 lakh.
In a statement, the Union health ministry said there have been reports citing findings from recent studies, in the US and European countries, in which age-specific fatality rates have been used to calculate excess deaths in India based on the seropositivity.
The extrapolation of deaths has been done on an “audacious assumption that the likelihood of any given infected person dying is the same across countries, dismissing the interplay between various direct & indirect factors such as race, ethnicity, genomic constitution of a population, previous exposure levels to other disease,” it said.
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, the Centre said missing out on deaths is unlikely. The Centre cited fatality rate, which on December 31 was 1.45% and after the second wave, is 1.34% now.
Meanwhile, Congress leader K C Venugopal on Thursday moved a privilege motion against Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar for "misleading" the parliament on deaths due to shortage of oxygen in the country amid COVID-19 outbreak.
He said the entire country witnessed how people were scrambling for oxygen and many patients in several hospitals died due to the shortage of the life-saving gas during the second wave of coronavirus.
"I have moved a privilege motion to the Rajya Sabha chairman demanding action against the Minister of State for Health due to misinformation given to the Rajya Sabha on my starred question," he told reporters here.
Venugopal said he had asked a question on how many people died in the country due to lack of oxygen, but the minister replied that there was no such death.
"This is totally baseless and against the truth because we have enough evidence in the public domain. You can see that their own Goa minister quoted that so many people died due to oxygen shortage. Their Karnataka minister also said so," he said, adding that ministers in Haryana and Andhra Pradesh also admitted deaths due to shortage of oxygen.
The Congress leader added that the MoS "misled the House with false information".
"That is why I have moved a privilege motion asking the chairman to send it to the privileges committee for a thorough inquiry," he said.
(With PTI Inputs)