Estimates of 2.5 million COVID mortality in India, says data journalist Rukmani S

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Photo-ANI

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 11 July 2021: It is a discussion topic as to how many lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The official figures hover around 407,145 (July 10, 2021). The figures from unofficial sources or media (Indian and foreign) and experts are much higher. In a country where even in normal times all deaths are not registered, it is no easy task to get hold of data about COVID-related deaths when the fear of getting a bad name for the country with a higher number of deaths prevails.

From March 2020 till the recent second COVID wave in 2021, India’s total COVID mortality is estimated to be around 2.5 million (25 lakhs), and the second wave figure being around 1.5 million (15 lakhs), reveals Rukmini S, prominent Indian data journalist in an interview to Karan Thapar in the wire.in (https://thewire.in/video/watch-estimate-india-25-lakh-covid-19-deaths-rukmini-s-karan-thapar).

The interview details estimates, calculations, excess deaths, mortality in different states, and high and low percentage of the difference between actual and official mortality figures. It can be confusing for a reader to understand data or statistics when differences in death estimates vary widely.

“Rukmini explains in simple, easy to follow but detailed terms important concepts to do with registration and medical certification of deaths and, in the process, also explains how well or how poorly it’s been done in India. She first talks about the registration of deaths, which the government says is now 92% of all deaths. However, in states like UP, Jharkhand and Bihar it is far lower, i.e. 63%, 59%, and 52% respectively. She then talks about medical certification of deaths by a doctor, which is only 22% nationwide. In some states, it’s a lot lower. For instance, it is 9% in Madhya Pradesh, 7% in UP, 6% in Jharkhand, and 5% in Bihar. In these states, therefore, over 90% of the time we do not have a definitive cause of death.

FULL INTERVIEW from – thewire.in

Even in Kerala, a state that is recognised for its administrative efficiency and good healthcare system, medical certification of death by a doctor is only 12%. ” (https://thewire.in/video/watch-estimate-india-25-lakh-covid-19-deaths-rukmini-s-karan-thapar)

“Rukmini speaks in considerable detail about how she did her seminal work in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and why the excess mortality in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh is 34 and 42 times greater than the official death toll, whereas in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, excess deaths are 6.2 times, 5.8 times and 1.6 times the official COVID-19 death toll,” the text article accompanying the video interview says.

In the 30 minutes interview, Rukmani explains the method she uses to calculate the true COVID death figures: “This first calls for a calculation of excess deaths, and she explains how that’s done. From this figure of excess deaths, the official COVID-19 death toll is subtracted. What you are left with can be loosely called missing COVID-19 deaths. They are not all COVID-19 deaths, but the vast majority are likely to be.”

Rukmani’s data analysis results contradict the official COVID-19 death figures in India. So, what is the truth? Karan Thapar says and Rukmani agrees a post COVID mortality survey is needed to reach the truth.

The exhaustive interview concludes that the best way to respect the COVID dead in India is the honesty of numbers and misrepresenting figures is an insult to the dead.

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