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India blocks WHO’s updated COVID-19 toll showing millions more deaths: report

The World Health Organization currently states on its website that 6.2 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19. But more than a year of research aimed at calculating the true death toll has led the public health authority to more than double that estimate, according to The New York Times.

The WHO reportedly put the true number at around 15 million people, but it has yet to release those figures.

India’s objections to the way these new figures were calculated delayed publication by months, The Times reported on Saturday, citing more than 10 people familiar with the data.

The new WHO estimate tells a far deadlier story of how the pandemic has affected India, which saw a massive spate of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths last spring. At least 4 million Indians have died of COVID-19, according to the WHO, far exceeding the country’s official death toll of 520,000.

The new figures would make India the country with the most deaths from COVID-19.

Researchers combined reported deaths with household surveys, up-to-date local information and statistical models, the Times said. Their findings were due to be released in January, providing key insights into understanding the pandemic, so authorities can try to prevent the next one. The WHO told The Times it plans to release the figures this month.

Many countries, including the United States, have struggled to accurately tally the death toll from COVID-19 due to insufficient testing, political factors and other reasons.

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