Ambiguity prevails over COVID death calculation

Tuesday’s media bulletin issued on Tuesday mentions 46.13% of deaths were due to COVID-19 and the remaining 53.87% due to co-morbidities, leaving it open to interpretation.

Till July 27, 480 COVID-19 patients have died. There are two ways to interpret the data — either 100% of the deaths translate to 480 in sheer numbers or that 46.13% of the total deaths is 480.

Dual interpretation

If the first interpretation is considered, then of the total 480 deaths recorded till July 27, around 222 (46.13%) people died due to COVID, and 258 (53.87%) died due to co-morbidities.

If the second interpretation is considered, 46.13% deaths due to COVID-19 are 480, then the total deaths is 1,040. Deaths due to co-morbidities will be 560 (53.87%). Officials of the Health department did not respond to calls or messages to offer clarity on this.

The ambiguity could have been avoided if the total deaths considered in the media bulletin was mentioned. Besides, distribution of deaths between government and private hospitals, and between age and gender would help people have a better understanding of the prevailing situation.

From May, guidelines issued by Indian Council of Medical Research and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research were followed to record the cause and underlying cause of deaths. The ‘Guidance for appropriate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in India’ was followed.


Citing the guidelines, Health Minister Eatala Rajender said on May 16 though a person tests positive for coronavirus, and dies of heart diseases, cancer or other ailments, cause of death will be attributed to long-term diseases. A committee was formed to analyse cause of death. Deaths were declared based on their death audit report.

Speaking in Warangal on Tuesday, Mr Rajender reiterated that every government hospital has a audit committee which declares cause of deaths. He said all deaths should not be attributed to coronavirus.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 15, 2021 9:19:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/ambiguity-prevails-over-covid-death-calculation/article32216276.ece

Next Story