ADVERTISEMENT

You Can’t Ignore the Dead: Dr Ashish Jha on COVID Deaths in India

The Public health expert claims that COVID deaths in India are much higher than what the official statistics reveal.

Updated
COVID-19
3 min read
New Delhi : Mass cremation of COVID victims at Gazipur crematorium in New Delhi on Friday, May 07. 
i

Public health expert Ashish K Jha believes that the COVID19 casualties in India are telling us that the disease is much worse than the official statistics.

Dr Ashish K Jha
Dr Ashish K Jha
Source: Twitter

Dr Jha recently posted a series of tweets claiming that the situation at crematoriums reveal that the official statistics are under-reporting the number of deaths from COVID19.

ADVERTISEMENT

Actual Deaths Can be 25,000 A Day

He feels that the actual COVID mortality in India could be closer to 25,000 a day, much higher than the official statistics.

Dr Ashish K Jha
Dr Ashish K Jha
Twitter

He argues that scenes from the crematoriums suggested that they were handling “two to four times spike in business”.

About 27,000 Indians died on typical day. Crematoriums handle that level of deaths every day. Additional 4,000 deaths won’t knock them off their feet
Dr Ashish K Jha

Therefore, he believes that COVID-19 is contributing 25-50 thousand deaths daily to India’s overall per day mortality numbers. “Crematoriums running 24×7 and running out of firewood suggest that the actual deaths are at least 25,000 a day,” he adds.

Infection Fatality Ratio Is Also Much Higher

The Infection Fatality Ration in India is 1%. It is higher than the IFR in the US (0.6%), despite having a higher rate of the younger population.

Indian healthcare system has collapsed. People dying for lack of oxygen. So IFR of 1% is reasonable, may even too low. Which would put daily infections at 2.5 to 5M per day
Dr Ashish K Jha

Dr Jha claims that the deaths in India are telling us that the disease is much worse than what the official statistics suggest it to be.

There’s an old saying in global health. You can ignore, fail to test for, or undercount whatever disease you want. But you can’t ignore the dead
Dr Ashish K Jha
ADVERTISEMENT

Overburdened Crematoriums Tell A Different Story

The alarming spike in daily cases and fatalities has not only highlighted the inadequacy of health infrastructure, but also led to long waiting periods at crematoriums in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and several other states as they struggle to manage the mounting death toll.

According to the World Health Organization, a death should be recorded as a COVID death if the disease is assumed to have caused or contributed to it, even if the person had a pre-existing medical condition.

However, in India, that doesn’t seem to be happening, with multiple states appearing to grossly underreport COVID-19 deaths in their official bulletins.

The total figure of COVID deaths released by the Delhi government between 18-24 April shows 1,938 deaths.

However, an investigation by NDTV uncovered that this number is grossly undercounted by at least 1,158 deaths, as Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) data from 26 crematoriums shows 3,096 cremations of COVID victims were carried out in the same period.

According to the report, crematoriums are not recording people who died due to the virus at home as COVID cremations.

“People who come from hospitals, come in ambulances. Others bring (bodies) from home. But if we look at their reports we will find that it is respiratory failure.”
Anuj Bansal, a staff member of the Ghazipur crematorium to NDTV

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Published: 
ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT