India’s real Covid death toll could be nearly 2MILLION says expert as Prime Minister Modi’s government is accused of covering up impact of Delta variant
- University of Middlesex experts say total of 395,000 could be five times higher
- Meanwhile US scientists say India is only detecting between 3 and 5% of cases
- Indian government has denied there is underreporting of coronavirus deaths
India’s true coronavirus death toll could be closer to 2 million compared to the official 395,000 fatalities reported, experts have warned.
Scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation say India could only be detecting between 3 and 5 per cent due to insufficient testing.
Murad Banaji, a mathematician at the Middlesex University estimates the country’s real death toll could be around five times the reported figure.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Banaji based the estimation partly on mortality and serosurvey data, which shows the presence of antibodies in the population.
This increased estimates echo research carried out by the New York Times last month which said the real death toll could be closer to 1.6million.
India’s true coronavirus death toll could be closer to 2 million compared to the official 395,000 fatalities reported, experts have warned. Pictured: Family lights funeral pyre in India
In consulting with more than a dozen experts, the Times found it difficult to get a clear picture even of the total number of infections in India due to poor record-keeping and a lack of widespread testing.
Experts have said the undercounting could be due to insufficient testing, hospitals being overwhelmed and lack of access to healthcare in rural parts of the country.
This could mean that many deaths with coronavirus are taking place at home, particularly in rural areas – and are therefore omitted from the count.
Other researchers have found that families are unwilling to say their loves ones have died with the virus.
The system for keeping death records in India is also unreliable, with just four out of five deaths not medically investigated pre-pandemic.
Dr Banaji has previously said that it is likely that underreporting varies from state to state.
He told the Hindu Times last week: ‘Even within States, it is probably different in urban and rural areas.
‘Many of the estimates are based on 2020 data. It’s too early to know whether underreporting has been higher during this wave, but as more data comes in, this will become clearer.
‘It may be that the speed of the surge meant that fewer of the deceased were tested, fewer received hospital care, and more died at home. All of these factors would tend to increase underreporting.’
Official figures in India put the toll at more than 395,000 in a population of 1.4 billion.
The country was also the first nation to detect the Delta variant which is now driving a spike in cases in the UK.
Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, has told the WSJ that undercounting could also have impacted the understanding of the variant.
A report by the World Health Organisation last month estimated that the global death toll may be two or three times higher than reported.
The Indian government has been forced to deny that there is widespread underreporting of Covid deaths.
A senior official has said the Government does not plan to amend it’s death toll.
The country has officially seen more than 30 million cases of Covid with 579,937 active cases.
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