© Reuters. File photo: On May 2, 2021, relatives cremated the bodies of people who had died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a crematorium in Jidnahari Village, a suburb of Bangalore, India. REUTERS/Samuel Rajkumar
Authors: Ankur Banerjee and Neha Arora
(Reuters)-A new study shows that India’s excess death toll during the COVID-19 pandemic may be as high as 4.9 million, which further proves that the number of deaths from the coronavirus may be millions more than official statistics.
The report, co-authored by the Washington-based Global Development Center and the former chief economic adviser of India, Arvind Subramanian, includes the number of deaths caused by various causes from the beginning of the pandemic to June this year.
India’s official death toll is more than 414,000, the third highest in the world after the United States and Brazil, but the study has added to a growing number of calls from experts to require strict audits of the death toll nationwide.
Official data show that the number of infections increased sharply in April and May, mainly caused by the more contagious and dangerous Delta variant, which overwhelmed the healthcare system and caused at least 170,000 deaths in May alone.
The report said: “Sadly, there may be too many deaths, millions instead of hundreds of thousands,” and the estimated number of deaths during the pandemic was between 3.4 million and 4.9 million.
But it did not attribute all excess deaths to the pandemic.
“We pay attention to all-cause mortality, and estimate the excess mortality relative to the pre-pandemic baseline, and adjust for seasonality,” the author said https://
The Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to Reuters email seeking comment.
Some experts say that the excess death toll is the best way to measure the actual death toll from COVID-19.
Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization, said on Twitter: “It is important for every country to capture excess mortality-this is the only way to prepare the health system for future shocks and prevent further deaths. ”
According to the New York Times, the most conservative death toll in India is estimated to be 600,000, and the worst case is several times this number. The government has rejected these figures.
Health experts attribute the low count to scarce resources in the vast hinterland of nearly two-thirds of India’s nearly 1.4 billion population, and many untested deaths at home.
India reported that the number of daily infections fell from the peak in May, and 30,093 new cases on Tuesday constituted the lowest number of daily cases in four months.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also been criticized for the chaotic vaccination campaign, which many believe has exacerbated the second wave of infections.
More than 8% of eligible adult Indians received both vaccines.
In July, the government received an average of less than 4 million doses per day, down from the record 9.2 million doses set on June 21, when Modi launched a free campaign to vaccinate all 950 million adults.