AFP/ New Delhi
The Indian government yesterday rejected recent studies suggesting that millions of people have died in the country from Covid-19, several times the official toll of almost 420,000.
It said in a statement, however, that several Indian states were now “reconciling” their data after dealing with a spike in cases in April and May.
On Tuesday a study by US research group the Center for Global Development suggested anywhere from 3.4mn to 4.7mn people had died in India, between eight and 11 times the official number.
That would give the country the world’s highest number of fatalities.
Currently its official toll of 419,000 trails the US on 610,000 and Brazil with 545,000.
The study is the latest to cast doubt on India’s official numbers, pointing to poor record-keeping and the death rate per million being around half the global average.
Researchers have looked in particular at “excess mortality”, the number of additional fatalities compared with normal times, and at death rates in other countries.
But the Indian government yesterday said it was an “audacious assumption that the likelihood of any given infected person dying is the same across countries”. The studies, it said, ignored “factors such as race, ethnicity, genomic constitution of a population, previous exposure levels to other diseases and the associated immunity developed in that population”.
Assuming that all excess deaths were from coronavirus was “not based on facts and totally fallacious”, the government said.
It added that India has a “thorough contact tracing strategy”, a “vast availability” of testing labs and that while some cases may go undetected, “missing out on deaths is unlikely”.
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