According to recent study, deaths in India number roughly 4 million during COVID-19 pandemic

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Arvind Subramanian, a co-writer of the study, pictured in 2011.
Image: PopTech.

In a paper published earlier this week, the US-based Center for Global Development wrote that excess deaths in India during the COVID-19 pandemic are believed to number between 3.4 to 5 million between May 2020 and June 21, 2021.

The figures in the paper were calculated using death certificates in seven states, international estimates of age-specific infection rates compared to data from antibody tests, and a consumer survey which records deaths. While not all of these deaths were necessarily caused by COVID-19, excess deaths can be used to help calculate the impact of the pandemic.

The researchers said the death toll was "likely to be far greater than the official count" and "likely to be in several millions". Arvind Subramanian, a co-writer of the report, said that "after the first wave, which was more spread out, there was a sense that India had escaped the worst because there was this undercounting of deaths, and that led to a culture of complacency. But in the second wave, with all the horrendous images that we saw, that really galvanised Indian society to get to the bottom of the numbers." Subramanian also added that the figures only went up to May and didn't include all of June or any of July, meaning the true death toll may still be undercounted.

More than 414,000 COVID-19 deaths have been officially recorded in India, the third-highest total in the world. There is no official record of excess deaths in India during the pandemic.