Here’s the matter of India’s reported missing Covid-19 deaths explained in 6 points
1. What are the fault lines? Where do they lie?
“For Covid-19, we have to throw the net more widely to capture all the deaths (confirmed and suspected) in order to understand the disease better and for its management,” said Prashant Mathur, director of the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), an ICMR body in a report. “It is important to correctly record the cause of deaths. But it is up to individual states to follow these guidelines. As per the existing law, NCDIR is not required to get data about suspected or probable deaths from states so I can’t say whether deaths are being certified.”
2. How is the process of underreporting of deaths working?
These are the reason, experts are saying that India missing a lot of deaths, considering only a small fraction of the population has been tested – around 1.72% – and many deaths are not being medically reported? Also, only one in four deaths in India is certified for a cause. “Of course there is under-counting as we have weak health surveillance systems,” says Oommen C Kurian of the Observer Research Foundation, a Delhi-based think tank, said to BBC. “But the question is about the scale of under-counting.”
— Dr Sampurna Roy MD (@DrSampyRoy) August 20, 2020
3. Is India’s low fatality rate entirely a vague representation?
4. Case count could be missing women
The popular belief is that women are far less likely to be affected by covid-19. But mounting evidence points to the hidden toll that covid-19 could be taking on women in India.
According to a report, when the results of the second round of Delhi’s SARS-CoV2 sero-prevalence survey were released last week, one finding stood out: the prevalence of infections was higher among women than among men. This is not the first sero-survey to have found this. The Mumbai and Ahmedabad sero-surveys had similar findings, the magnitude of the gap being higher in Mumbai. The Pune sero-survey did not find such a gap. The report says the reason this finding is unusual is because in terms of officially counted cases – persons confirmed as covid-positive after an RT-PCR or antigen test – women trail men significantly.
5. What steps have been taken to prevent underreporting of deaths?
Some experts have suggested that telecoms companies should release call record data from March to find out where millions of Indians moved to from their workplaces in the cities in the wake of the lockdown. Using the telecoms data, the government could send teams to the hotspot areas to record hidden adult deaths. As we all know that when the pandemic ends, the toll from Covid-19 will be the only indicator by which countries’ performance in containing the infection will be judged.