The under-reporting of cases and mortality were sharper in India during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the first wave, and close to 7 lakh people died during the current wave by May 15 compared to nearly 1.16 lakh reported deaths, according to a mathematical model proposed by a team of researchers from the Michigan Union and the Indian Institute of Statistics.
The first wave
Their modeling studies suggested that India would have reported fewer cases with nearly 26.73 times and deaths with 5.77 times during the last wave that started in March. In comparison, the underreporting of cases and mortality during the first wave was estimated to be 11.11 times and 3.56 times. Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatist with the University of Michigan, was the author of the study, which was recently posted on the previous MedrXiv server.
As of May 15, India reported 24.7 million cases, but our estimated number of infections is at 492 million, meaning that nearly 36 per cent of the population has had a past or active infection, Mukherjee said.
Similarly, they estimated that up to 1.21 million people would be exposed to the infection, while deaths reported as of May 15 were nearly 2.7 lakh. While 1.58 lakh people died during the first wave, the deaths reported during the second wave were about 1.16 lakh.
Interestingly, this is not the only group that had projected this seemingly high Indian Covid mortality.
Murad Banaji, an Indian-born mathematician at Middlesex University in London, had estimated that pandemic deaths in the country would be somewhere between 3 and 8 times higher than officially reported. The researchers said they have no rigorous way to prove the under-reporting rate in India because there is no mortality data for all causes from the last three years.
Mortality data for all causes must be released nationwide from 2019, 2020, 2021 month to month so that we can compare. We have seen so many studies in recent weeks comparing death certificates issued as many times higher than reported deaths and higher than last year at this time, Mukherjee said Business line.
We can never know what happened in rural India where most deaths are not reported by medicine anyway, she said.
You have to be careful
Tanmay Mitra, a systems-transformed immunologist at the physicist at the Helmholtz Infection Research Center in Braunschweig, Germany, who is not involved in the research, said: “During the first wave, we were really wrong about the ICMR results. sero-survey studies in metro cities, and even some people started talking about herd immunity in India afterwards. So we have to be very careful about these estimates.
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