- The report is by the Washington-based Center for Global Development
- India's COVID 19 second wave killed at least 1,70,000 people in May alone
- Excess deaths are the best way to measure the real toll from COVID: Experts
The country’s excess deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic could be as high as 4.9 million, a new study shows, providing further evidence that millions more may have died from coronavirus than the official tally. The report by the Washington-based Center for Global Development, co-authored by former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, included deaths from all causes since the start of the pandemic through June this year.
The official tally of more than 414,000 deaths is the world’s third-highest after the United States and Brazil, but the study adds to growing calls from experts for a rigorous nationwide audit of fatalities.
Also Read: Study Shows Why Second Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine Should Not Be Skipped
A devastating rise in infections in April and May, driven largely by the more infectious and dangerous Delta variant, overwhelmed the healthcare system and killed at least 170,000 people in May alone, official data show.
What is tragically clear is that too many people, in the millions rather than hundreds of thousands, may have died, the report said, estimating between 3.4 million and 4.9 million excess deaths during the pandemic.
But it did not ascribe all excess deaths to the pandemic.
We focus on all-cause mortality, and estimate excess mortality relative to a pre-pandemic baseline, adjusting for seasonality, the authors said.
The health ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters email seeking comment.
Some experts have said excess deaths are the best way to measure the real toll from COVID-19.
For every country, it’s important to capture excess mortality – the only way to prepare the health system for future shocks and to prevent further deaths, Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization, said on Twitter.
Also Read: COVID-19 Led Disruption To Regular Immunisation Programme Has Caused 66% Increase In Unvaccinated Children In India: UNICEF
The New York Times said the most conservative estimate of deaths in India was 600,000 and the worst-case scenario several times that. The government has dismissed those figures.
Health experts blame the undercounting largely on scarce resources in the vast hinterland home to two-thirds of India’s population of nearly 1.4 billion, and also many deaths at home without being tested.
The country has reported a decline in daily infections from a May peak, with Tuesday’s 30,093 new cases making up its lowest daily count in four months.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has also been criticised for a messy vaccination campaign that many say helped worsen the second wave of infections.
Just over 8% of eligible adult Indians have received both vaccine doses.
In July, the government-administered fewer than 4 million daily doses on average, down from a record 9.2 million on June 21, when PM Modi flagged off a free campaign to inoculate all 950 million adults.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.