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India’s Deaths During COVID-19 Pandemic 10 Times Official Toll, Study Says

NEW DELHI (AP). According to the most comprehensive study of the devastating impact of the virus in the south of the country, the number of deaths in India during a pandemic could be 10 times higher than the official death toll of COVID-19, which probably makes it the worst human tragedy in modern India. Asian country.

Most experts believe India’s official death toll is over 414,000 is a significant underestimate, but the government dismissed these concerns as exaggerated and misleading.

A report released on Tuesday estimated the additional deaths – the difference between reported and expected – to be between 3 and 4.7 million between January 2020 and June 2021. It says the exact figure may “be elusive,” but the true death toll “is likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the official estimate.”

A report published by Arvind Subramanian, a former chief economic adviser to the Indian government, and two other researchers from the Center for Global Development and Harvard University, said the tally could have missed deaths that occurred in overcrowded hospitals or when medical services were delayed or interrupted. especially during the devastating spike earlier this year.

“The true deaths are likely to be in the millions, not hundreds of thousands, making this perhaps the worst human tragedy in India since partition and independence,” the report said.

In this archived photo on April 29, 2021, a man flees to escape the heat emanating from several funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims in

AP Photo / Amit Sharma

In this archived photo from April 29, 2021, a man flees to escape the heat emanating from several funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India.

The division of the British-controlled Indian subcontinent into independent India and Pakistan in 1947 resulted in up to 1 million deaths as gangs of Hindus and Muslims exterminated each other.

India’s virus counts report used three calculation methods: vital registration data, which records births and deaths in seven states, blood tests showing the prevalence of the virus in India along with global COVID-19 deaths, and an economic survey of nearly 900,000 people are trained three times a year.

The researchers warned that each method has flaws, for example, the economic survey does not indicate the cause of death.

Instead, the researchers looked at all-cause mortality and compared this data to mortality in previous years, a method widely considered to be an accurate metric.

The researchers also warned that the prevalence of the virus and deaths from COVID-19 in the seven states they studied may not spread to the whole of India, as the virus may have spread worse in urban than in rural states, and as the quality of healthcare varies widely across India.

And while other countries are believed to have underestimated the number of deaths during the pandemic, India is believed to have a larger gap due to the fact that it has the world’s second largest population of 1.4 billion people, and its the situation is compounded as not all deaths were reported even before the pandemic.

Dr. Jacob John, who studies viruses at Christian Medical College in Vellore in southern India, read the report for the Associated Press and said it highlighted the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the country’s under-trained healthcare system.

“This analysis echoes observations by other fearless investigative journalists who have highlighted the massive underreporting of deaths,” Jacob said.

The report also estimates that nearly 2 million Indians died in the first spike in infections last year, and says that a misunderstanding of the extent of the tragedy in real time could “create a collective complacency that led to the horror” of an outbreak earlier this year. …

Death tolls from COVID-19 have increased in some states in India over the past few months after finding thousands of previously unreported cases, raising fears that many more deaths have not been officially reported.

Several Indian journalists have also published higher numbers from some states using government data. Scientists say this new information is helping them better understand how COVID-19 is spreading in India.

Murad Banaji, a math student at Middlesex University who has studied COVID-19 death rates in India, said the latest data confirmed some suspicions of underreporting. Banaji said the new data also shows that the virus has not limited itself to urban centers, as modern reports have indicated, but villages in India have also been hit hard.

“We have to ask the question whether some of these deaths could have been avoided,” he said.

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