A year after first Covid-19 victim, India has over 158,000 deaths

New Delhi, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- India on Friday completed a year after the Covid-19 claimed its first victim in the country that has since become the world’s second-worst affected nation due to the pandemic with more than 11.3 million infections and over 158,000 deaths.

However, the overall fatality rate is relatively lower than other worst-affected nations considering its population of 1.35 billion and housing some of the world’s most densely populated cities in the country.

A year ago, on Mar.12, a 76-year-old died man in Kalaburagi of the southern Karnataka state.

India was then beginning to get into the grips of coronavirus with barely 80 confirmed cases and only a handful of laboratories capable of testing for the virus.

On Friday, the official death toll from Covid-19 in India was 158,306 – the fourth highest after the United States (543,721), Brazil (273,124), and Mexico (193,142).

Still, with a death rate of 114 per million population, well below the global average of 339.2, the situation is considerably better in India than many other nations where the virus has wreaked havoc.

For example, the US has 1,636 Covid-19 deaths per million population, Mexico, with a total of 193,142 deaths, has 1,487 victims per million population.

Brazil, with 273,124 deaths, has 1,279 fatalities per million population and the United Kingdom (125,168 deaths) has 1,837 victims per million population.

“India’s Covid-19 mortality rate has more or less been at par with the other South Asian countries. The WHO benchmark of a case fatality rate of 4 percent has not been seen in most Indian states,” Rajib Dasgupta, head of Center for Social Medicine and Community Health at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told EFE.

He said only some districts in high-incidence states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Punjab had a case fatality rate of 4-5 percent during the worst phase of the pandemic.

The data, Dasgupta said, could not be read as definitive because “calculating CFR during an ongoing epidemic is known to be fraught with errors.”

“It is generally agreed that with a younger population and that too with a relatively low prevalence of comorbidities, much of Asia has not seen the levels of mortality like in Europe, the UK or the US.”

He pointed out that a sizable proportion of deaths in those countries were among institutional populations such as care homes.

“Families in India and much of South Asia tend to be multi-generational and the geriatric population (with some of the highest vulnerabilities) are not in institutional settings.”

However, some experts have questioned the data transparency to indicate that number of deaths in India could be higher than reported by the government.

Findings of a serological survey in New Delhi suggested that more than half of the people in the world’s second-most populated country may have contracted the virus.

The opened up the barrage of questions about insufficient data of those hit by the virus.

The Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) guidelines stipulate that deaths of people with suspected or probable Covid-19 should be included in mortality data.

However, the government has not shared any information about whether state data on deaths included suspected and probable cases.

But so far, the government data on deaths include suspected or probable cases is unknown. EFE-EPA

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