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Research estimates that millions may have died in India during COVID-19 pandemic

Virus Outbreak India COVID-19
Posted at 9:04 AM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 10:09:47-04

NEW DELHI — The most comprehensive research yet estimates India's excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic were a staggering 10 times the official COVID-19 toll.

Most experts believe India's official toll of 414,000 dead was a vast undercount, but the government has dismissed those concerns as exaggerated and misleading.

A report released Tuesday estimates excess deaths to be 3 million to 4.7 million between January 2020 and June 2021. It said an accurate figure may "prove elusive," but the true death toll "is likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the official count."

The report was published by Arvind Subramanian, the Indian government's former chief economic adviser, and two other researchers at the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, and Harvard University.

It calculated its figures by comparing deaths to those in pre-pandemic years, considering the virus prevalence in the population and using an existing economic survey.

The report also estimated that India's initial virus surge last year killed many more people than reported, breeding complacency that set up conditions for the horrific surge earlier this year.