The many challenges in counting India's COVID-19 death toll | The Hindu in Focus Podcast

Guest: Dr Anand Krishnan, professor at the Centre for Community Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences

May 26, 2021 07:30 pm | Updated 07:30 pm IST

In this episode we’re talking about the challenges of counting or estimating the death toll from COVID-19 in India. This is, of course, a complicated and polarising subject. Due to a combination of factors such as the size of India’s population, and the lack of good and accessible data in many instances, there is a difference between the officially reported figures for deaths from the pandemic and the actual death count.


But to what degree is there under-reporting? This is the cause of much speculation -- the subject of many mathematical models and projections even. As we record this podcast today, the 26th of May, the New York Times has an article that projects a likely scenario in which there are 1.6 million deaths in India as against the reported figure which, as of May 24, stand at a little over 300,000.

We're going to take a slightly broader approach to this issue in the podcast today and break down some of the issues with counting deaths in India, the various methodologies that are used, and the challenges of each.

We are joined today by Dr Anand Krishnan, professor at the centre for community medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He has also written two recent columns for The Hindu on counting the COVID 19 toll in India. We go through a lot of technicalities during the conversation about the processes through which mortality, not just from COVID-19 but other causes as well, are calculated. We hope that it will give you a more comprehensive picture on this issue.

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