Reports claiming massive Covid toll citing LIC’s IPO data ‘not factual’: Government

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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday said that media reports claiming LIC IPO data confirming massive Covid-19 toll in 2021 are “speculative and not factual” and asserted that the country has a very transparent and efficient system of reporting corona deaths.
“While claims settled by LIC relate to life insurance policies taken by policy holders for deaths due to all causes, the news reports conclude that this would imply Covid deaths were underreported. A flawed interpretation like this is not based on facts and highlights the bias of the author. It also reveals lack of understanding of how the Covid-19 deaths in India are collated and published daily in public domain since the beginning of pandemic,” said a statement issued by the Union health and family welfare ministry.
The second wave of Covid-19 had led to deaths in large numbers and triggered doubts about the actual toll.
For its upcoming IPO, the country’s largest insurer LIC has submitted a draft red herring prospectus to stock market regulator Sebi in which it cited a wide range of data to provide an account of its overall business.
The ministry statement said that right from the gram panchayat to the district and state level, the process of reporting deaths is monitored and carried out transparently. It said that the government has adopted a globally-recognised categorisation to classify Covid deaths with the sole objective of reporting deaths in a transparent manner. Under this model, compilation of the total deaths in the country is undertaken by the Centre based on independent reporting by the states.
The statement said that the Centre has time and again exhorted states to periodically update their mortality figures as this exercise would accentuate the efforts of public health response to Covid-19 by giving a true picture of the pandemic.
“In addition to this, it must be noted that there is an added incentive in India to report Covid deaths as it entitles one to monetary compensation, which further makes the likelihood of underreporting scarce. Therefore, jumping on any conclusion regarding underreporting of deaths is tantamount to mere speculation and conjecturing,” according to the statement.
It said that since the start of the pandemic, the Centre is committed to provide a transparent and accountable public health response under the whole of society and the whole of government approach. “Transparent reporting of deaths due to Covid-19 is one of the main pillars of the graded approach to Covid-19 management in India and the Union health ministry has also regularly emphasised the need for a robust reporting mechanism for monitoring district wise cases and deaths on a daily basis,” according to the statement.
It also said that the Centre has been issuing guidelines on various aspects of Covid management. In addition to this, all states and Union territories were engaged through multiple platforms, formal communications, video conferences and through deployment of central teams for correct recording of deaths in accordance with the prescribed guidelines.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also issued a ‘guidance for appropriate recording of Covid-related deaths in India’ for correct recording of all deaths as per ICD-10 codes recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the statement added. “Thus, it is highlighted that quoting issues as sensitive as death during a global public health crisis like Covid-19 should be dealt with utmost sensitivity and authenticity. India has a robust civil registration system (CRS) and sample registration system (SRS) which was in place even before the Covid-19 pandemic and covers all states/UTs,” according to the statement.
“It is also highlighted that the registration of deaths in the country has a legal backing. The registration is done under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD Act, 1969) by functionaries appointed by the state governments. Thus, data generated through CRS has utmost credibility and should be used rather than depending on unauthenticated data,” it added.

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