According to a US study organization, India’s COVID-19 death toll is up to ten times greater than the roughly 415,000 deaths recorded by officials, making it the country’s greatest humanitarian catastrophe since independence.
The figure from the Centre for Global Development is the highest yet for the carnage in the 1.3 billion-strong South Asian country, which is recovering from a catastrophic spike fueled in part by the Delta variety in April and May.
According to the research, between 3.4 million and 4.7 million individuals died from the virus between the start of the epidemic and June of this year.
“True deaths are likely to be in the several million, not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India’s worst human tragedy since partition and independence,” the researchers said.
After the United States’ 609,000 fatalities and Brazil’s 542,000, India’s official death toll of just over 414,000 is the world’s third-highest.
For months, experts have questioned India’s death toll, blaming a strained health system rather than intentional disinformation.
In recent weeks, many Indian states have updated their viral counts, adding thousands of “backlog” fatalities.
The study was based on calculating “excess mortality,” or the number of individuals who died more than they did before the crisis.
The authors analyzed death records in certain states as well as a periodic national economic research, which included Arvind Subramanian, a former top government economic advisor.
It was difficult to estimate mortality with statistical certainty, according to the researchers, who included a Harvard University specialist.
“However, all projections indicate that the pandemic’s death toll will be an order of magnitude higher than the official count,” they added.
By late May, Christophe Guilmoto, an expert on Indian demographics at France’s Research Institute for Development, estimated that the death toll had risen to about 2.2 million.
The mortality rate per million in India was almost half that of the rest of the globe, according to Guilmoto, who added that “such a low number defies the apparent severity of a crisis that has hit most Indian families throughout the nation.”
Only one COVID-19 fatality in seven was reported, according to Guilmoto’s team.
According to a model developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in the United States, the cost of COVID-19 may be more than 1.25 million people.
The Economist magazine was blasted by India’s health ministry last month for publishing an article claiming that excess fatalities were five to seven times higher than the official toll, calling it “speculative” and “misinformed.”
According to a World Health Organization study released in May, up to three times more individuals died globally during the pandemic from COVID-19.