Data | 'Excess deaths' during the pandemic in India was 5.8 times the official COVID-19 death toll

By The Hindu Data Team
Family members mourn the death of a COVID-19 patient at a hospital. Photo: PTI (Source: PTI)

The “excess deaths” registered during the pandemic period was 5.8 times the official COVID-19 death toll in 11 Indian States/Union Territories put together, whose Civil Registration System (CRS) data was accessed by The Hindu. The undercount factor of 5.8 was the highest among nations with the most recorded fatalities due to the virus. Moreover, the share of registered deaths in India was about 92%, and only 20.7% were medically certified in 2019. Hence, the undercount is a conservative estimate.

State-wise undercount

The table lists the major States for which excess deaths and the undercount factor were calculated for the period from April 2020 to May 2021. Excess deaths were calculated as the difference between the registered deaths in the pandemic period and the average number of deaths registered in 2018 and 2019 for the same months.

Excess deaths DP Sep 6 - Chart 1 

Chart appears incomplete? Click to remove AMP mode

State-wise registration

The chart plots the death registration level (RL, %) against the share of registered deaths that were medically certified (CM) in States/UTs as of 2019. In five States, the share of registered deaths that were medically certified were less than 10%.

Excess deaths DP Sep 6 - Chart 2_final 

In Madhya Pradesh, 'excess deaths' were almost 24 times the COVID-19 deaths recorded between April 2020 and May 2021. While 89% of the deaths in the State were registered, only 9% of them were medically certified.

Also read: ‘Excess deaths’ in Delhi two times official COVID-19 toll

Country-wise undercount

The table lists the excess deaths and the undercount factor for the ten countries with the highest recorded COVID-19 death toll apart from India. Data for Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina and Iran were insufficient for analysis. Chile was also included because it has a relatively high case fatality rate. Excess deaths were calculated as the difference between the registered deaths in the period between March 2020 and May 2021, and the average number of deaths registered in 2018 and 2019 for the same months. India's undercount factor was the highest among the countries listed.

Excess deaths DP Sep 6 - Chart 3_final 

Cause of death

The table lists the death registration level and the share of registered deaths with a known cause of mortality in countries listed in the previous table according to the latest available data. In nine out of the 12 countries, the share of registered deaths in which the cause of death was known was more than 95%.

Excess deaths DP Sep 6 - Chart 4_final 

Also read: Lessons from India’s all-cause mortality data


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.