On June 21, India had recorded a total 29.3 million infected cases of Covid-19, becoming the second most-affected country after the US and Brazil in terms of fatalities.
According to a new report by a US-based think tank, the number of deaths could have been as high as 49 lakh (compared to the current tally of 4 lakh), indicating that millions more could have succumbed to this pandemic-making the situation even worse than what the country witnessed during Partition riots in 1947.
Based on various surveys and data, the Washington-based Center for Global Development formulated a report co-authored by India’s former Chief Economic Adviser, Arvind Subramanian. The report was authorized and put together by Abhishek Anand of Harvard University, Justin Sandefar of CGD and Arvind Subramanian which read “the first wave was also more lethal than is widely believed and about 2 million may have died in the first wave alone”.
Three statistical estimates were used in computing the mortality rate and figures of excessive deaths. Firstly, it was household survey that covered approximately 8,00,000 individuals. Secondly, it was the Civil registration (CRS) of deaths data majorly covering seven states, and interestingly, that too gave an account of 34 lakh individuals. And for the third stage, it was estimated based on seroprevalence data implying a higher toll of around 40 lakh people.
This superfluity in the account of the number of deaths recorded during the pandemic was quite high as compared to the pre-pandemic years. However, it’s worth nothing that this data also includes additional death of those indirectly linked with covid, such as those who were infected with various other diseases but weren’t provided with conventional resources and medical care (as most of the concern was centered towards catering the need of the pandemic). Thus it could be a prospective of the forthcoming undercount in India’s covid toll.
Acknowledging the report, chief scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Soumya Swaminathan said, “For every country, it’s important to capture excess mortality. It’s the only way to prepare the health system for future shocks and to prevent further deaths. This is also a reason why we need to invest in strong civil registration and vital statistics, so that policies can be adjusted based on real data.”