Attempt to Defame India
World Health Organisation is trying to defame India by questioning the statistics of COVID related deaths. The Government of India should give a befitting reply to these attempts. — Dr. Ashwani Mahajan
A report published in the New York Times (NYT) on April 16, 2022, quoted the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying that India is hindering the World Health Organization’s effort to accurately assess the deaths due to COVID infection. On the basis of that report, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has said that whereas 40 lakh deaths have occurred in the country due to COVID, only 5 lakh deaths have been reported by the government.
The Government of India has registered a strong objection to this report. Government of India has said in a press release, that, while NYT has not been able to get data for other countries, it’s selectively quoting data for India on behalf of WHO. It seems that the ‘cooked’ data of the WHO is being used mischievously with the intention of defaming India.
Today, while the whole world is appreciating India’s vaccination program, with more than 90 percent of eligible population already vaccinated, it seems that the WHO officials are deliberately trying to undermine India’s outstanding performance and achievement by questioning the government’s published figures of deaths due to COVID in India.
WHO is re-estimating the death toll due to COVID in the whole world, and has concluded that actually many more deaths have occurred during pandemic, as compared to what various governments have declared. However, the major cause of concern is that WHO, while giving estimates of 0.9 millions extra deaths, over and above earlier figures, of 0.6 millions; more than one third of the difference between the two estimates is being reported from India. It is worth noting that the NYT quoted the WHO as saying that while it was being reported by all countries that some 60 lakh people died due to Covid, in reality this figure is 150 lakh. This figure is more than twice, what has been reported by different countries. But out of the 90 lakh additional deaths that are being reported, 35 lakh are said to be from India. That is, the WHO is trying to say that 40 lakh people died due to COVID in India instead of 5.2 lakhs declared by the government.
WHO is being quoted as saying that this figure of deaths is not only of direct deaths from COVID, but it also includes the deaths of those who were suffering from other illnesses and who died during the period as they couldn’t get medical aid due to the lockdown during COVID. However, the big difference in the figures comes from direct deaths due to COVID only.
Concerns have been raised by the Government of India over this act of the WHO. The Government of India has issued a press release saying that the World Health Organization has adopted double standards to estimate the figures of deaths. For ‘Tier-1 nations’, under which sources say about 80-90 countries have been counted, WHO has accepted official estimates as authentic; for other types of countries (Tier-2 countries), which include India, a mathematical modeling process has been adopted. The government has said that no justification has been given for dividing the countries into different categories. The government has further said that if the mathematical model that has been adopted for the second type of countries, it needs to be authenticated by applying the same model to the Tier-1 countries as well, which the World Health Organization has failed to do. The government has said that it has written six letters to the World Health Organization and lodged its objection regarding this process five times in virtual meetings, to which the WHO did not give any satisfactory answer. “They have looked at numbers from 18 states to arrive at the figure. They have not revealed the sources of the data used to compute the final estimate. We do not even know which states these are,” a government source has said.
The World Health Organization, is an organization under the auspices of the United Nations that is responsible for protecting the health of the people all over the world. It is expected from WHO, that in case of health disaster in any part of the world, it should take appropriate steps itself, and also advise the governments for the appropriate measures.
Perhaps citing this, the World Health Organization argues that the correct assessment of deaths during COVID will help in making the right policies in the context of such pandemics in the future. Although there is no fault in this argument, the World Health Organization has actually lost trust of the world, because the same been mired with controversies due to its mis-actions during the pandemic itself.
At first instance, there was a lack of honesty on the part of World Health Organization in the assessment of the cause of infection. Significantly, on January 14, 2020, the World Health Organization said in a tweet that there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of this infection. However, this infection was spreading since September 2019. This tweet by WHO misled countries around the world that it will not spread from humans to humans. All countries continued with their international passenger flights. Due to this negligence on the part of WHO, this virus of Wuhan, China became the cause of great devastation all over the world. After a long time, testing was started at international airports, and a process of quarantine was also adopted.
Not only this, the World Health Organization also tried to hide that the infection originated from China’s Wuhan Laboratory, and against a strong opinion around the world, WHO kept arguing that it originated from the animal market of China. Most of the experts around the world rejected this claim of the World Health Organization. It’s strongly believed that Mr. Tedros, became Director General, WHO, of this organization only through the support of China. In such a situation, the head of the World Health Organization could not afford to displease China.
Realizing this mess of the World Health Organization, the then US President Donald Trump decided to stop the contribution of $ 0.4 billion being given by America to this organization. It is worth noting that the WHO receives predetermined contributions from countries around the world, as well as many types of voluntary contributions. Major contributions to the voluntary funding of the WHO come from the Bill Melenda Gates Foundation, other so-called philanthropy organizations, and the United States, China, and many other developed countries. Various organizations, including Gates Foundation, have influence over the functioning of the World Health Organization.
It is worth noting that when India was moving fast towards manufacturing a vaccine on its own, the top officials of the World Health Organization were dismissing our efforts as ‘vaccine nationalism’ saying that it will delay the development of vaccine and therefore elimination of infection. Not only this, Bill Gates was heard saying that he is not in favor of sharing the vaccine formula to countries like India, because it will affect the quality of the vaccine. Under pressure from ‘Gavi’, an affiliate of the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization was also pressuring India to make a binding commitment to buy the vaccine being made by large multinational companies, under Covax facility.
Today, when India is not only successful in manufacturing vaccines and has vaccinated almost its entire population, is dealing with pandemic much better than most of the other countries of the world, becoming almost self-reliant in medicines and equipments, World Health Organisation is trying to defame India by questioning the statistics of COVID related deaths. The Government of India should give a befitting reply to these attempts.