Lessons from India’s all cause mortality rate

Source: The Hindu

Relevance: To understand the impact of Covid 19

Synopsis: There have been allegations of the government suppressing the death data. This can be derived from the estimate of excess deaths during the pandemic period.

Estimates of excess death

Excess deaths are the deaths that have occurred over and above normal death.

It is difficult to estimate the deaths caused by Covid-19 as specific data is not available. However, reference can be taken from excess deaths caused by Pandemic, data of which can be taken from sources like civil registration system.

Data shows that there was an estimated “excess deaths” of 3.5 – 3.7 million nationwide from April 2020 to June 2021. This amounts to 35% more deaths than expected. The numbers are alarming as they can increase as more data comes in.

Deaths during the pandemic period

We have limited data related to death registration. In most of the states, either the data is incomplete or unavailable. Moreover, there is a problem with the organization of data.

Data taken from 12 states like AP, Bihar, and Haryana etc, shows six million deaths, which are 1.3 Mn more than the expected deaths.  Extrapolating this to Pan-India, it may reach around 2.8Mn, which is 8.5 times the official Covid-19 death toll.

Global Trends
  • India’s surge in mortality places India lower than Mexico but significantly higher than the USA.
  • However, we cannot be sure how many of India’s excess deaths were because of Covid-19.

Though, as per the latest National serosurvey, 60-70% of the population might have been impacted. This could mean a majority of India’s excess deaths could have been because of Covid 19.

State-wise trends
  • States like Kerala, HP, Punjab show lower excess mortality than expected.
  • AP and MP on the other hand show excess mortality.
  • Around 2/3rd deaths took place in the Covid wave of May 2021.
  • Thus, this calls for the need to close the gaps in the registration system.
Way Forward

Though the cause is difficult to determine what is evident that there was a significant surge in death rates during the pandemic. This calls for the need to strengthen the civil registration system.

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