Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Every night on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this question — is India counting its COVID-19 deaths correctly?
The vast majority of deaths in India — eight out of ten — are not medically certified, meaning that no doctor has determined what the person died from. I’ve linked to the data source for that.
If coronavirus spreads in India, will we know?
While the true picture on coronavirus will take some time to appear, past studies show that few deaths are certified…
The BBC’s India correspondent Yogita Limaye spoke to a doctor at a Mumbai hospital and here’s what he said:
In the absence of better data, we can try to look at smaller areas to understand what’s going on. Tabassum Barnagarwala of the Indian Express in Mumbai did a good job looking at Mumbai’s first 50 Covid-19 deaths and discovered among other things that half of them died within hours of being admitted, implying that the discovery process is still very weak: https://indianexpress.com/article/coronavirus/mumbai-coronavirus-covid-19-test-deaths-6363066/
I wish I had a clearer answer, but unfortunately t’s just this — yes, it’s likely that India is missing some Covid-19 deaths in its official statistics. But we don’t yet know the scale of the omissions.
Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. Tomorrow — a new question.