The Centre on Thursday termed The New York Times report on COVID-19 death toll in India as "completely baseless and false". The government said the report, titled 'Just How Big Could India’s True Covid Toll Be?', is not backed by any evidence and is based on distorted estimates.
For the uninitiated, the NYT report cited India's official death toll of 3,07,231 as on May 24 and it estimated 600,000 deaths in a conservative scenario, 1.6 million estimated deaths in a more likely scenario and 4.2 million estimated deaths in a worse-case scenario.
NYT said it arrived at this estimate after studying the case and death counts in India, the results of three national serosurveys conducted and consulting with more than a dozen experts. The experts included Kayoko Shioda, an epidemiologist at Emory University, Dan Weinberger, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy and Dr Paul Novosad, an associate professor of economics at Dartmouth College.
Govt suppressing Covid death numbers, alleges Congress
The Congress on Wednesday accused the Centre of suppressing COVID-19 death numbers, with party leader Rahul Gandhi saying numbers do not lie but the government does. "Numbers don't lie... GOI (government of India) does," Gandhi said on Twitter while citing the NYT estimate of the number of COVID-19 deaths in India.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, "We will never know the true number of COVID-related deaths as the government has worked harder on suppressing this data than they did fighting the pandemic."
BJP slams Rahul Gandhi:
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) then took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi for his allegation that the government was "lying" about the COVID-19 death toll, saying he "knows nothing and speaks everything" and referred to the high number of casualties in opposition-ruled states like Maharashtra to attack the Congress leader.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra noted that Maharashtra, where the Congress is in the ruling alliance, has reported the highest number of deaths and that there is a "huge discrepancy" between actual deaths and what has been projected by the Rajasthan government, a Congress-ruled state.
"Rather than existing in the republic of Twitter and playing this tweet game" Gandhi should pick up the phone and speak to chief ministers of states where his party is in power, he said, alleging that the Congress leader's priority has always been to spread lies and misinformation.
"He will never get down to the ground and do any act of service. He will post one tweet daily. One tweet a day will not drive the corona away," Patra said at a virtual press conference.
(With input from agencies)