Covid Death Count Increases In India, Many Could Be Undercounted
India is seeing a consistent increase in Covid deaths over the past week. On Friday, there were 14,348 cases whereas on a day before there were 16,156 infected patients. There has been a notable increase in death count over these two days. According to the statistics by the Union Ministry of Health on Friday, there were 805 deaths whereas in those released on Thursday, there were 733 deaths. If we see the period between 22-28th October, there were more than 400 deaths nationwide on a daily basis, while the weekly average was 593.
Before this, the weekly average at this rate was recorded at the end of July. The weekly average of Covid mortality on 31st July was 620, whereas the last time that the country registered more than 800 cases of coronavirus was 24th July. This was the time when the second wave of infections was subsiding after its peak.
Between 22-26 October, the daily deaths from Covid were, respectively, 666, 561, 443, 356 and 585. The uptick in deaths from Covid in India is being attributed to backlog data from Kerala. For the past few days, kerala has been reporting its ‘missing deaths’ from Covid. As per the stats released this Friday, 704 of the 805 deaths nationwide were in Kerala alone. Similarly, data from 27th October shows that 482 of 585 deaths were from Kerala.
Now, the number of deaths from Covid in India are expected to keep rising until the time Kerala keeps adding 7,000 deaths from the virus to the national tally. The state’s health minister Vini George confirmed that 7,000 deaths from the beginning of the pandemic until mid-June 2021 which could not be confirmed earlier due to technical reasons will be accounted for. The backlog now being rectified by Kerala has focused renewed attention on an American report which came out a few months ago. The US-based Center for Global Development claimed in a study released in July that ‘additional deaths’ could range between 37-47 lakhs which was more than 10 times the number of deaths that had been counted until that time. Kerala is among the states that were surveyed as part of this study. Apart from Kerala, a consumer survey was conducted in 1,77,000 homes covering 8,68,000 people across Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.
There were other paramters that were also considered while preparing the report. India’ former Chief Econoic Advisor Arvind Subramanyam that the death count in India numbers not in the lakhs but in the ten lakhs. Now there is strong possibility that after Kerala, there will be other states that will reveal undercounting of COVID deaths.
After this research by a foreign body, national daily The Hindu had also claimed in a report dated 31st July that the number registered “additional” deaths were 8.22 times more than the official Covid death count. This was based on the Civil Registration System in 8 states.
If this is true, then India will become the country with the highest number of ‘miscellaneous’ deaths. The newspaper report has cautioned that not all of these deaths are necessarily due to the pandemic, but there is definitely a strong hint that it points towards the number of deaths due to corona being a lot more than they are accounted for.