ABC NEWS – New research suggests that India’s COVID-19 death toll during its first and second waves might have been significantly undercounted.
The actual number is potentially 12 times higher than the official stats — over 6 million people.
That would be by far the highest COVID death toll in the world — greater than the U.S. at more than 811,000.
India was devastated by a crushing wave of the delta variant in April and May, with supply shortages, makeshift clinics and images of funeral pyres burning nonstop.
There was a sense at the time that the number of deaths was an undercount and a study in July indicated that deaths could be 10 times the official toll, although that research had limitations.
The new study, by researchers in the U.S. and India from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, a public health research institute in Washington, D.C., indicates:
“Reported COVID-19 deaths greatly underestimated pandemic-associated mortality” and was particularly acute among older and poorer people.
According to government statistics, India logged 478,007 COVID-19 deaths from the beginning of the pandemic, marked at Jan. 3, 2020 to Dec. 21, 2021, and nearly 35 million cases during that time.
The study focused on the Chennai District on the country’s southeast coast.
It indicates the number is likely much higher, finding that that the death rate there was 5.2 per 1,000, “a 41% increase over typical mortality levels in the city … ”