India's true Covid death toll may be closer to 4 million - 10 times higher than official count - study

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A critical patient who tested positive for COVID-19 is been taken to an ICU unit at a COVID-19 care hospital in Kolkata, India, on April 22, 2021.
  • A new study estimated India's true Covid-19 death toll may be closer to 4 million people.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been criticised for its handling of the pandemic.
  • Less than 7% of India's population of 1.4 billion people are vaccinated, according to the report.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The true Covid-19 death toll in India is close to 4 million people - 10 times higher than the official toll - according to a new study published Tuesday.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Center for Global Development, a research institute based in Washington, DC.

Researchers estimated that, in total, India's true death toll between January 2020 and June 2021 was between 3.4 and 4.7 million people, with up to 4 million of those deaths being solely due to Covid-19.

India's official Covid-19 death toll is more than 400,000, The New York Times reported. As of Tuesday, the country also reported 40,000 new Covid-19 cases and close to 500 deaths a day, according to a Times database.

"Estimating Covid deaths with statistical confidence may prove elusive," the researchers wrote. "But all estimates suggest that the death toll from the pandemic is likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the official count of 400,000; they also suggest that the first wave was more lethal than is believed."

According to the study, the authors reached their conclusion by analyzing state data in India, serological studies, international estimates, and through a series of household surveys.

With less than 7% of India's population of 1.4 billion people vaccinated, experts said it could present concerning scenarios.

The Indian government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been routinely criticised for under-counting Covid-19 deaths during different surges and for refusing lockdown measures. One of the authors of the study formerly served as chief economic adviser to the government during Modi's term.

"True deaths are likely to be in the several millions, not hundreds of thousands, making this arguably India's worst human tragedy," the study's authors wrote.

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