India Covid Deaths Surge as Global Toll Surpasses 4 Million

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “India Covid Deaths Surge as Global Toll Surpasses 4 Million” – below is their description.

    India recorded more than 400,000 deaths since the pandemic began, as the world marked a total death toll of 4 million, a milestone recorded Wednesday by Johns Hopkins University.

    India emerged as a main driver of mortality along with South America.

    Experts believe the roughly 1,000 deaths recorded daily in India are almost certainly an undercount.

    For Mohammed Shamim, supervisor at a Muslim cemetery in New Delhi, the pandemic and subsequent deaths, have taken their toll on his mental health.

    For months during India’s devastating second wave of infections, that killed more than 230,000 people in the last three months, Shamim buried at least 16 to 20 bodies every day.

    He says many people whose relatives died from COVID-19 refused to touch the bodies fearing the infection.

    They would instead hand Shamim wads of cash and plead with him to perform the last rites.

    “This time, humanity has died more than humans,” he said.

    Shamim says though the number of bodies coming in have decreased as India’s daily infections have reduced more than 90 percent since the peak in May, he is fearful of another wave.

    Experts say India’s death figure is almost certainly an undercount, although the Indian government denies such suggestions.

    Now, several Indian journalists have published data from some states for “excess deaths” using the government data for deaths registered, irrespective of cause.

    Scientists say that this new information is helping them better understand how COVID-19 spread in India.

    Rukmini S., an independent data journalist in Chennai, has published analysis of these ‘excess death’ figures from three Indian states in the months when the pandemic was at its most brutal in India earlier this year.

    She said once it became clear that India’s official death tally was missing many deaths she realized it was time to get creative.

    In Madhya Pradesh, one of India’s largest state and home to over 73 million people, that she found that the spike in deaths in April and May was three times that of what was the average in previous, and over 40-times that of the reported death toll due to the virus.

    The pandemic also saw journalists teaming up with scientists, including epidemiologists and statisticians, to work together to try find answers.

    Rukmini, however, cautioned that all excess mortality can’t be equated to deaths due to the virus, since many people likely died because hospitals were overwhelmed, and they couldn’t get help for other ailments.

    But she added that the spike in excess deaths was too large for it to just be accounted for by such deaths.

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