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The Indian government rejected Thursday recent studies suggest millions of people in the country have died from Covid-19, several times the official toll of nearly 420,000.
However, it said in a statement that several Indian states were now “reconciling” their data after a spike in cases in April and May.
On Tuesday, a study by the US research group the Center for Global Development suggested that between 3.4 million and 4.7 million 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, the official toll of 419,000 runs the United States at 610,000 and Brazil at 545,000.
The study is the latest to cast doubt on India’s official numbers, pointing to poor records and that the death rate per million is about half the global average.
Researchers have mainly looked at ‘excess mortality’, the number of extra fatalities compared to normal times, and at death rates in other countries.
But the Indian government said Thursday it was a “daring assumption that the probability of a particular infected person dying is the same in all countries.”
The studies ignored “factors such as race, ethnicity, genomic makeup of a population, previous levels of exposure to other diseases, and the associated immunity developed in that population.”
Assuming all the additional deaths were due to the coronavirus was “not based on fact and totally deceptive,” the government said.
A health worker gives a dose of COVISHIELD, a vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), manufactured by Serum Institute of India, to a woman in a classroom of a school converted into a temporary vaccination center, in Ahmedabad, India, May 1, 2021 (Reuters)
It added that India has a “thorough contact tracing strategy,” a “massive availability” of testing labs and that while some cases may go undetected, “there are unlikely to be fatalities.”
However, the statement left some room for blame on local authorities, saying that the health ministry “only collects and publishes data sent by state governments” and that it “repeatedly advised” states on how to properly record deaths.
States overwhelmed by the April and May wave have now been advised to conduct thorough audits that could have been missed.everal have updated their numbers in the past few weeks, it said.
Maharashtra, India’s worst affected state, has increased its death toll by about 15,000, while Bihar has added about 4,000 and Madhya Pradesh 1,500.
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