India’s Covid-19 deaths maybe 8 times more than reported, says new study

New Delhi, Mar 11 (EFE).- India suffered an estimated cumulative loss of 4.7 million Covid-19 deaths, a study published in the British medical journal Lancet has said, recording over eight times more fatalities than reported in the country.

The new study released Thursday said the global Covid-19 toll totaled 18·2 million as against the reported 5·94 million between Jan 1, 2020, and Dec 31, 2021.

The Lancet study said the number of excess deaths due to Covid-19 was largest in South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe regions.

“At the country level, the highest numbers of cumulative excess deaths due to Covid-19 were estimated in India – 4·07 million,” said the study.

The second-most populous country has officially reported 515,714 deaths due to the pandemic as of Friday.

But the government reported about 489,000 deaths during which the Lancet researchers studied the health crisis, which makes the official toll grossly under-reported – more than eight times less than the peer-reviewed estimates.

In terms of the number of excess deaths, the United States is at the No.2 spot with 1·13 million fatalities, Russia 1·07 million, Mexico (798,000), Brazil (792,000), Indonesia (736,000), and Pakistan (664,000).

Among these countries, the excess mortality rate was highest in Russia with 374·6 deaths per 100,000) and Mexico (325·1 per 100,000).

“The full impact of the pandemic has been much greater than what is indicated by reported deaths due to Covid-19 alone,” said the study.

It said strengthening death registration systems around the world, long understood to be crucial to global public health strategy, was necessary for improved monitoring of the pandemic and future pandemics.

The study said the objective was to estimate, globally and for each of the 191 countries and territories, excess deaths due to the pandemic from Jan 1, 2020, to Dec 31, 2021.

The researchers noted that they leveraged data from locations where all-cause mortality data were available from the periods before and during the pandemic to estimate excess mortality for the study period.

“Our excess mortality estimates reflect the full impact of the pandemic on mortality around the world, and not only deaths directly attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

India suffered major health and economic setbacks India during the first and the second wave of virus outbreaks, even as the third wave, triggered by the less dangerous Omicron variant was not as deadly.

It is not the first time the Indian government has been accused of grossly under-reporting the Covid-19 fatalities.

Earlier in January, researchers from Canada, India, and the US estimated that roughly three million coronavirus deaths remained unaccounted for by the Indian health ministry.

Released in the journal Science, the findings supported long-held suspicions that India’s official record may have significantly under-counted the fatalities.

Before that, The New York Times said in an article published in May 2021 that India’s death count was more likely three times the official toll, basing it on data from three nationwide antibody tests.

The government has dismissed such reports as far from reality.

“Such media reports are fallacious and ill-informed. They are not based on facts and are mischievous. India has a very robust system of birth and death reporting,” a health ministry statement said in January.

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