NEW DELHI: India has slammed an upcoming World Health Organization study that reportedly claims the coronavirus has killed four million people across the country, the latest analysis suggesting a tally significantly under the number of deaths from the pandemic.
The New York Times reported last week that New Delhi had halted publication of the study after questioning that India’s actual death count was eight times higher than the official figures.
The conclusion matches similar figures from The Lancet last month and a February study in the journal Science that put a COVID death toll of at least 3.2 million.
But India’s health ministry said in a statement over the weekend that the WHO’s mathematical model of the pandemic was “questionable” and “statistically unproven”.
Several concerns were raised with the world health body about the report, including what the ministry said was a “peculiar” assumption of a relationship between lower temperatures and monthly deaths.
India had shared its doubts through various formal communications and meetings since last November, according to the ministry.
“A satisfactory response from the WHO has not yet been received,” he added.
The WHO was not immediately available for comment.
Indian officials have previously questioned the methodology behind the Lancet and Science studies that also found a much higher death toll.
Its official figures show 520,000 COVID deaths nationwide, which still represents the highest number of victims in a single country in the world after the United States and Brazil.
India was hit by a devastating COVID outbreak last year that killed thousands every day at its peak, overwhelming hospitals and crematoria.