LIC IPO: Data on claims settlement by LIC in 2021 don’t imply COVID deaths: Govt




New Delhi [India], February 19 (ANI): Data related to claims settled by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India in 2021 does not imply COVID-19 deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Saturday, trashing reports in a section of media on underreporting of fatality during the second wave of the pandemic.

"While claims settled by LIC relate to deaths due to all causes but the news reports conclude that this would imply that the COVID-19 deaths in the second wave were underreported. A flawed interpretation like this is not based on facts and highlights the bias of the author," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also stated that the media reports linking claims settled by the LIC with the COVID-19 deaths reveal the lack of understanding of the way the fatality in India is collated and published daily in the public domain since the onset of the pandemic," it added.

According to IPO related papers filed by the LIC, the death claims during the first half of 2021-22 stood at Rs 21,325 crore, which is 91 per cent of the total death claims of Rs 23,483 crore recorded in the full year of 2020-21.

It has been reported in a section of media that the sharp jump in death claims during the first half of 2021-22 was due to COVID-19 related deaths. Some media reports also claimed that COVID-19 related deaths were underreported during the second wave of the pandemic which hit the country during the first half of 2021-22.

However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare rubbished the media reports related to underreporting of COVID-19 deaths, saying "India has a very transparent and efficient system of reporting COVID-19 deaths. Right from the Gram Panchayat level to the District-level and the state level, the process of reporting deaths is monitored and carried out transparently".

"Further, with the sole objective of reporting deaths in a transparent manner, the Government of India has adopted a globally recognised categorization to classify COVID-19 deaths. In the model so adopted, the compilation of the total deaths in India is undertaken by the Centre based on the independent reporting by the states," it said.

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, the ministry noted.

"In addition to this, it must be noted that there is an added incentive in India to report COVID-19 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," it said. (ANI)