Unreported numbers; unaudited deaths

July 11, 2020 0 By FM

Even though India’s health ministry is in a denial mode as far as community transmission of the virus in the country is concerned, epidemiologists fear that unregistered and unreported cases of COVID-19 may be very high in India. 

A serological survey conducted across 69 districts of 21 states by the ICMR has found that an estimated 7,00,000 people could have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus as of early May, several times higher than the official tally for the country at the time, according to media reports.

The numbers estimated by ICMR were much higher than the numbers of confirmed cases as of May. The estimates are likely to balloon further as more such serosurveys are currently underway.

“Many state governments,” avers an expert preferring anonymity, “for some strange reason, have not allowed ICMR approved private labs to start testing.” There seems to be a deliberate attempt to deny easy access to COVID-19 testing so as to reduce the numbers, he adds.

India is among the nations with the least number of deaths due to COVID-19, claimed the prime minister during one of his video calls with chief ministers to discuss the situation after ‘Unlock 1.0’ and to plan ahead for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, some epidemiologists are taking exception to India’s official COVID-19 mortality figure of 14 per million, one of the lowest in the world. In comparison, the US and the UK have registered 395 and 647 deaths per million people. They suggest that deaths related to the epidemic may not be being adequately audited. The country also has a poor death registration system. Others, however, maintain that mortality rates are low in India because the average age of its population is low, unlike in the US and Europe, where older people are more in number.