A study led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Unity Health Toronto Research Ethics Board has revealed that India’s official death totals from the COVID pandemic are widely regarded as under-reports.
In the research the researchers have quantified all-cause excess mortality in India, comparing deaths during the peak of the first and second COVID waves (Jul-Dec 2020 and April-June 2021) with month wise deaths in 2015-19 from three sources: Civil Registration System (CRS) mortality reports from 15 states or cities with 37% of India’s population; deaths in 0.2 million health facilities; and a representative survey of 0.14 million adults about COVID deaths.
A survey, CRS, HMIS, all pointing towards at least 27% excess mortality over a year. Note that these results are after using UN/SRS baselines in the main. All 3 databases suggest that bulk of excess mortality was in the second wave.
Results During the first viral wave, the median excess mortality compared to CRS baseline was 22% and 41%, respectively, in included states and cities, rising to 46% and 85% during the second wave.
Our inter-disciplinary research team estimates excess mortality in India from June 2020 to June 2021 at 2.7-3.4 million (most of it in the 2nd wave), using 3 different databases, including the only survey that asked a question on Covid deaths.
— Chinmay Tumbe (@ChinmayTumbe) July 26, 2021
In settings with 10 or more months of data across the two waves, the median excess mortality was 32% and 37% for states and cities, respectively. Deaths in health facilities showed a 27% excess mortality from July 2020-May 2021, reaching 120% during April-May 2021.
The national survey found 3.5% of adults reported a COVID death in their household in April-June 2021, approximately doubling the 3.2% expected overall deaths. The national survey showed 29-32% excess deaths from June 1, 2020 to June 27, 2021, most of which were likely to be COVID.
This translates to 3.1-3.4 million COVID deaths (including 2.5-2.8 million during April-June 2021). National extrapolations from health facility and CRS data suggest 2.7-3.3 million deaths during the year.
Conclusions India’s COVID death rate may be about 7-8 times higher than the officially reported 290/million population.