India tops global ‘excess deaths’ list of Covid-19: Study

New Delhi, March 12 (KMS): India saw 4.07 million deaths due to Coronavirus, eight times more than what the official figures had showed, according to a new study by top medical journal The Lancet.

The data by India’s Health Ministry put the number of people died due to the virus that wreaked havoc across the globe at 0.5 million.

“As many as 4.07 million people in India are estimated to have died of the Covid-19 virus between 2020 and 2021,” goes the new analysis. “This is eight times more than the number of COVID-19 deaths India had officially registered. The official toll remained 0.5 million even now.”

The study was conducted by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent research group in the United States. Notably, the deaths included in the Lancet study are overall mortal figures and not necessarily only deaths due to Coronavirus.

“The magnitude of disease burden might have changed for many causes of death during the pandemic period due to both direct effects of lockdowns and the resulting economic turmoil,” the paper said as it used figures of deaths, due to all causes, released by countries every year.

Worldwide, the official figures put out by governments show 5.94 million deaths which is way below what the Lancet analysis revealed – 18.2 million. India tops the list of countries with excess deaths followed by the US with 1.13 million deaths in two years, 1.4 times more than the official figures.

The other countries where deaths exceeded 0.5 million are Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan, the study said. Collectively these countries accounted for more than half of excess deaths in the pandemic period.

The IHME used a civil registration system (CRS) for India to estimate the excess deaths and found 4.07 million excess deaths. But that CRS data for the time period was available for 12 states only. “For locations without weekly or monthly reported all-cause mortality data, we developed a statistical model that captured the relationship between the key COVID-19-related covariates, such as seroprevalence, infection-detection ratio, and other population-level burden of disease metrics, and excess mortality rate,” the paper explained.

The Indian government has so far denied reports of excess deaths claiming that figures are concluded through robust mechanisms in place.

A petition alleging death undercount during pandemic is also pending in the Indian Supreme Court.