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India Had 40 Lakh Excess COVID Deaths, Highest in the World: Lancet

The study found that India accounted for 22.3% of the global excess deaths, thanks to the country's large population

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India's actual death toll is around 40 lakh more the official numbers reported between January 2020 and December 2021, according to a report published in the medical journal Lancet.

The study authors also found that of the data they analysed from 191 countries, India has the highest excess COVID-19 mortalities in the world.

As of 11 March, India has recorded 515,745 official COVID-related deaths.

Responding to the Lancet study via their official Twitter handle, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare called its findings 'speculative and misinformed'.

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COVID-19 Deaths in India: Closing the Gap Between the Real and the Official

According to the study authors, at the national level, India had an estimated 152.5 excess deaths per 100,000 people over the study period of 2 years, indicating that the impact of the pandemic was much greater than reported.

They compare this to the officially reported COVID-19 mortality rate of 18.3 per 100, 000 people.

To arrive at this data, the study authors also analysed empirical excess mortality from 12 different states in India.

The findings of this peer reviewed study bolster what many experts have been saying since the beginning of the pandemic— that India's actual COVID death toll is far higher than the official numbers.

"Most studies put excess deaths during the pandemic at between 3 and 5 million — around seven to eleven times official COVID deaths," Dr Murad Banaji, a mathematician from Middlesex University in the UK, who has been closely mapping India's COVID-19 data told FIT back in February.

Now, this study provides more concrete data— albeit still an estimated number.

The study also found, of the Indian states they looked at, Bihar had the highest disparity between the official and the estimated excess COVID deaths.

The states of Uttarakhand, Manipur, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Karnataka had excess mortality rates higher than 200 per 100 000.

On the other hand, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Goa had excess mortality rates that were lower than the global average.

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The study found that India accounted for 22.3 percent of the global excess deaths till December 2021, in part due to the country's large population.

Global COVID Deaths

Although reported COVID-19 deaths between 1 January 2020, and 31 Dec 2021, totaled to 59.4 lakh worldwide, the study authors estimate the true numbers to be almost 4 times the number.

"We estimate that 18.2 Million (1.82 Crore) people died worldwide because of the COVID-19 pandemic (as measured by excess mortality) over that period."
The study authors

After India, the countries that followed with the highest excess COVID mortality rates in the world were the US, Russia, Mexico and Brazil, Indonesia, and Pakistan in that order.

"These seven countries may have accounted for more than half of global excess deaths caused by the pandemic over the 24-month period," according to the study authors.

"The number of excess deaths due to COVID-19 was largest in the regions of South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and Eastern Europe," they added.

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