According to the most comprehensive study of the spread of the virus in South Asian countries, India’s excess death toll during the pandemic may be 10 times the official COVID-19 death toll, which may make it the worst human tragedy in modern India.
Most experts believe that India’s official death toll of more than 414,000 people is greatly underestimated, but the government considers these concerns to be exaggerated and misleading.
The report released on Tuesday estimated that between January 2020 and June 2021, the number of excess deaths (the gap between the recorded number and the expected number) will be between 3 and 4.7 million.
The report was published by Arvind Subramanian, the former chief economic adviser of the Indian government, and two other researchers from the Center for Global Development and Harvard University, claiming that the exact number may be “elusive”, but the true number of deaths “may be larger than official statistics.”
According to the report, the count may miss deaths in overwhelmed hospitals, or when healthcare is delayed or interrupted, especially during the devastating second wave of pandemics earlier this year.
The report said: “The real death toll may be millions instead of hundreds of thousands. This is arguably India’s worst human tragedy since its division and independence.”
In 1947, the British-ruled Indian subcontinent split into independent India and Pakistan. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslim mobs killed each other, killing as many as 1 million people.
How is the research conducted?
The report on the number of deaths from the virus in India uses three calculation methods: data from the civil registration system that records the number of births and deaths in seven states, blood tests showing that the virus is prevalent in India, and global COVID-19 death People’s economic surveys are done three times a year.
The researchers cautioned that each method has weaknesses, such as economic surveys ignoring the cause of death.
Instead, the researchers looked at deaths from various causes and compared the data with mortality rates in previous years—a method that is widely regarded as an accurate measure.
The researchers also cautioned that the prevalence of the virus and the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the seven states they studied may not translate to India as a whole, because the virus may spread more in urban and rural areas, and the quality of medical care throughout India big difference.
Although other countries are considered to have underestimated the number of deaths in the pandemic, India is considered to have a bigger gap because it has the world’s second-highest population of 1.4 billion and the situation is complicated because not all deaths were recorded even before the pandemic Number of people.
‘Substantial underestimation of the death toll’
Dr. Jacob John, who studies the virus at the Vellore Christian Medical College in southern India, reviewed the Associated Press report and said it highlighted the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the country’s underprepared health system.
Jacob said: “This analysis reiterates the observations of other fearless investigative journalists that underscore the massive underestimation of the death toll.”
The report also estimated that nearly 2 million Indians died during the first surge in infections last year, and stated that the lack of “real-time grasp of the scale of the tragedy” may “bred up the horror of collective complacency that led to the surge earlier this year.” .
In the past few months, some Indian states have increased the death toll of COVID-19 after finding thousands of previously unreported cases, which has raised concerns about more deaths that are not officially recorded.
Several Indian journalists also used government data to publish higher numbers for some states. Scientists say that this new information helps them better understand how COVID-19 is spreading in India.
Murad Banaji, who studies mathematics at Middlesex University and has been studying COVID-19 mortality data in India, said recent data confirms some suspicions of underestimation.
Banagher said the new data also showed that the virus is not limited to urban centers. As contemporary reports have shown, Indian villages have also been hit hard.
“One question we should ask is whether some of these deaths can be avoided,” he said.