India Undercounts Covid Deaths, Actual Number of Deaths Over 3 Million: Top Doctor

Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi. Photo: PIB
Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi. Photo: PIB

As the Indian government headed by prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi has been hiding data related to Covid-19 cases, deaths, and vaccination, the health experts advise the government to release the data truthfully.

By Rakesh Raman

A leading epidemiologist Prof. Prabhat Jha has said that the Covid-19 deaths being reported by India are substantially undercounted and WHO does not trust Indian figures.

Prof. Jha – who is the founding director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Ontario – estimates that the actual number of Covid deaths in India is nearly 3.4 million (34 lakh) as opposed to the official figure of around 400,000 (4 lakh).

In a 25-minute interview on January 13 to journalist Karan Thapar for The Wire news service, Prof. Jha – who was the lead author of a study that estimates India’s total Covid-19 deaths – advised India to release the actual data.

The latest study reveals that between June 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021 the total number of Covid deaths in India were 7-8 times greater than the official figure of around 400,000. In the study, Prof. Jha estimates that the number of Covid deaths in India during this period was between 3.1 and 3.4 million. He said the reason that WHO doesn’t trust India’s Covid-19 death count is because the undercounting in India is substantially greater than other countries.

As the Indian government headed by prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi has been hiding data related to Covid-19 cases, deaths, and vaccination, the health experts advise the government to release the data truthfully.

Prof. Jha said the collection and dissemination of correct data will help India make better healthcare plans to deal with the coronavirus crisis. While the official data says that as of January 13 just over 485,000 Indians died of Covid, independent research reveals that the actual number of deaths is much more than the official figures.

According to a BBC report, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused excess deaths in India to cross more than four million (40 lakh). While there are serious doubts about the efficacy of vaccines being used in India, it is believed that many people are still dying in India, but the Modi government is hiding the real data.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Science magazine on January 6, 2022 about the Covid mortality in India claims that India’s national Covid death totals remain undetermined.

As of January 1, 2022, according to the Science magazine study, India reported over 35 million cases of SARS-CoV-2, second only to the United States (U.S.). Astonishingly, however, India’s official cumulative Covid death count of 0.48 million implies a Covid death rate of approximately 345/million population, which is about one-seventh of the U.S. death rate. 

The study adds that India’s reported Covid death totals are widely believed to be under-reports because of incomplete certification of Covid deaths and misattribution to chronic diseases and because most deaths occur in rural areas, often without medical attention. 

Of India’s 10 million deaths estimated by the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) in 2020, over three million were not registered and over eight million did not undergo medical certification. These data discrepancies suggest that India is deliberately hiding the Covid death numbers.

Prof. Jha gave the examples of Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and Bihar states where the actual number of deaths is being largely concealed. He believed that the same figure fudging is happening now when the Omicron variant is wreaking havoc in India. 

Meanwhile, in an ongoing RMN Poll, 81% people say that Modi is not handling the coronavirus crisis effectively while the infections and deaths are increasing rapidly in all parts of the country.

With the coronavirus explosion, India has become the pandemic epicenter, which is posing a health threat to the entire world. As the Modi government is not capable of handling any situation that requires professional competence, the global community including the UN, WHO, the U.S., and the European Union must intervene to guide Modi before coronavirus assumes catastrophic proportions.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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