Officially, India's death count due to COVID-19 stands at 418,987. But, several studies, in the country and abroad, have concluded otherwise. The latest study by Bloomberg, a US-based software, data, and media company, has pegged the death numbers at a staggering 5 million.
Dismissing reports that India's COVID-19 toll was 'undercounted', the government on Thursday said the reports assume that all excess mortality figures are COVID deaths, which is not based on facts and totally fallacious, reports NDTV.
This comes at a time when several states have revised their COVID-19 death count after audit, among them are Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Let's look at a few studies that put India's death toll at variance from that of the government:
*A report by Bloomberg says that India’s actual death toll from COVID-19 could range between 1.3 million to a staggering 5 million. Even the most conservative estimate from this puts the tally at more than double that of the US, the highest recorded in the world so far.
Bloomberg arrived at these figures after approaching authorities in about half of India’s 28 states and territories seeking death data from April and May for the last two years and analyzed figures from researchers and experts. "The result is clear: the real toll has been vastly underestimated because of a combination of under-counting, a backlog in the civil registration system and a lack of testing leading to COVID deaths being classified as other conditions like heart disease," reports bloomberg.com
* Earlier this week, a report by the Washington-based Center for Global Development think tank concluded that the deaths were likely in the range between 3.4 million to 4.9 million. “Regardless of source and estimate, actual deaths during the COVID pandemic are likely to have been an order of magnitude greater than the official count,” said the report, co-authored by Arvind Subramanian, former chief economic adviser to the Indian government.
*Christophe Guilmoto, a specialist in Indian demography at France's Research Institute for Development, estimated that the death toll was nearer 2.2 million by late May. His team concluded that only one COVID-19 death in seven was recorded.
*In June, weekly magazine Economist reported that the India's death toll due to coronavirus could be “five-to-seven times” higher than the official number. It said India’s actual toll could be more than 20 lakh. This came on the day, India’s official toll was 3,67,081. The Health ministry, however, dismissed the report and said that the article “is without any basis and seems to be misinformed”.
* Another study, by Bhramar Mukherjee a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, suggests the death toll is around 1.3 million up to June 15.