Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - India’s Covid deaths 10 times higher than reported: study



India’s Covid deaths 10 times higher than reported: study

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Municipal corporation workers prepare to cremate a body buried in a shallow grave on the banks of the Ganges river during the Covid-19 pandemic in India. AFP

India’s Covid deaths 10 times higher than reported: study

India's coronavirus death toll is up to 10 times higher than the nearly 415,000 fatalities reported by authorities, likely making it the country’s worst humanitarian disaster since independence, a US research group said July 20.

The Centre for Global Development (CGD) study’s estimate is the highest yet for the carnage in the South Asian nation of 1.3 billion people, which is emerging from a devastating surge partly fuelled by the Delta variant in April and May.

The study – which analysed data from the start of the pandemic to June this year – suggested that between 3.4 million and 4.7 million people had died from the virus.

“True deaths are likely to be in the several millions, not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India’s worst human tragedy since partition and independence,” the researchers said.

After the sub-continent’s partition in 1947 into mainly Hindu India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, sectarian bloodshed killed hundreds of thousands of people. Some estimates say up to two million died.

India’s official death toll of just over 414,000 is the world’s third-highest after the US’ 609,000 fatalities and Brazil’s 542,000.

Experts have been casting doubt on India’s toll for months, blaming the already overstretched health service.

Several Indian states have revised their virus tolls in recent weeks, adding thousands of “backlog” deaths.

The CGD report was based on estimating “excess mortality”, the number of extra people who died compared with pre-crisis figures.

The authors – who included Arvind Subramanian, a former chief government economic adviser – did this partly by analysing death registrations in some states as well as a recurring national economic study.

They also compared surveys of the spread of Covid-19 in India with international death rates.

The researchers, which also included a Harvard University expert, acknowledged that estimating mortality with statistical confidence was difficult.

“[But] all estimates suggest that the death toll from the pandemic is likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the official count,” they said.

Christophe Guilmoto, a specialist in Indian demography at France’s Research Institute for Development, this month estimated that the death toll was nearer 2.2 million by late May.

India’s death rate per million was nearly half the world average and Guilmoto said “such a low figure contradicts the apparent severity of a crisis that has struck most Indian families across the country”.

Guilmoto’s team concluded that only one coronavirus death in seven was recorded.

A model by the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that the Covid toll could be more than 1.25 million.

India’s health ministry last month slammed the Economist magazine for publishing a story that said excess deaths were between five and seven times higher than the official toll, calling it “speculative” and “misinformed”.

A World Health Organisation report in May said up to three times more people had died around the globe during the pandemic – from coronavirus or other causes – than indicated by official statistics.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four