NEW DELHI: India’s official COVID-19 death toll surpassed 500,000 on Friday, a level some data analysts said had passed last year but was obscured by inaccurate surveys and unaccounted-for deaths in the hinterland, where millions remain vulnerable for the disease.
The country, which has the fourth highest number of deaths worldwide, recorded 400,000 deaths in July 2021, according to official data, following the devastating outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Some believe the numbers were much higher.
“Our study, published in the journal Science, estimates 3 million COVID deaths in India by mid-2021 using three different databases,” Chinmay Tumbe, an assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, who co-authored was of the study, to Reuters.
Last month, the Indian government dismissed the study as groundless in a statement that it has a robust birth and death reporting system in place.
The Indian states are recording deaths from COVID after collecting data from their districts. In recent months, several states have updated the death toll, some under pressure from the country’s highest court. In most cases, authorities said there were delays due to delayed registrations and other administrative errors.
India is currently in the midst of a third wave of the coronavirus led by the Omicron variant, which some top experts say is already being transmitted in the community, although federal officials say most cases are mild. read more
Last month, the government relaxed testing standards and instructed states to drop mandatory contacts for confirmed cases unless they were old or had other conditions. But as the number of tests dropped, the government issued a revised circular warning saying they would miss the spread of the virus.
According to official figures, the total number of COVID infections in India has reached 41.95 million, the second highest worldwide after the United States.
To prevent new spikes, the government has vaccinated three quarters of the eligible adult population of 939 million with the mandatory two-dose regimen.
Indian officials are conducting a vaccination campaign in remote parts of the country to increase lagging vaccination rates, with health workers going door-to-door to administer injections.
“I’m making it clear to them how important vaccines are to escape the coronavirus,” health worker Asmita Koladiya, who has been forced to take her daughter with her due to a lack of childcare facilities, told Reuters.
In the country’s capital, Delhi, as new infections of the Omicron variant fell sharply from peak, authorities have further eased curbs, saying they would reopen schools and colleges from Monday and private offices would be fully staffed. .
The city’s sports complexes will also reopen, Deputy Prime Minister Manish Sisodia said in a webcast on Friday.
RECONCILIATION WITH TIME, LOSS
According to the Federal Ministry of Health, there were 500,055 deaths in India on Friday including 1,072 fatalities in the past 24 hours. Of these, 335 deaths were reported from the southern state of Kerala, which has been updating data for weeks with deaths from last year.
Kerala, home to less than 3% of India’s 1.35 billion population, accounts for nearly 11% of the country’s total deaths.
“Some states, such as Kerala, are recording their backlog of deaths under judicial pressure, although not all states have,” said Gautam Menon, a professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University near the capital who has been investigating the spread of the disease. virus follows. .
In Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, authorities have received more than 100,000 claims for COVID-19 compensation, of which 87,000 have been approved, according to a senior government official.
The number of claims received is nearly 10 times the official COVID-19 death toll of 10,545, according to government data.
“There has been no under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths… Compensation payment policies are very liberal according to Supreme Court guidelines, which is why the number of applicants exceeds COVID-19 deaths,” the statement said. official said, refusing to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the discussions.