India’s coronavirus-related deaths crossed the 1 lakh mark on Friday, three days after the global toll touched 1 million. This means India now accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the world’s Covid-19 deaths.
Only the United States and Brazil have had more deaths. More than 2.12 lakh people have died in the US, and about 1.45 lakh in Brazil.
India has of late been contributing between 15 per cent and 25 per cent of global deaths daily. Between 4,000 and 6,000 people have been dying every day; and India has been reporting more than 1,000 daily deaths for over a month now. This is not surprising given that India has been discovering far more cases than any other country.
India’s case fatality ratio (CFR), or the number of deaths out of total confirmed infections, has been declining for over three months now. CFR fell from 1.76 per cent to 1.56 per cent during September.
Maharashtra accounts for more than a third of India’s deaths, having recorded almost 38,000 fatalities so far. It also has a very high CFR of 2.67 per cent.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have recorded more than 9,000 deaths each – but their CFRs are in line with the national average, around 1.5 per cent.
Delhi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have had more than 5,000 deaths each.
The country’s highest CFR is in Punjab – 3 per cent. The state has a relatively low caseload of 1.15 lakh, but nearly 3,500 deaths. Almost 2,000 deaths were reported in September, when cases rose by 60,000.
Kerala, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, and even Andhra Pradesh seem to be doing relatively well in preventing deaths. These states have among the lowest CFRs among states with 1 lakh cases or more.
Deaths per million population are still less in India – nearly half the world average. Only about 72 deaths per million population have occurred in the country so far; globally this number is 131. This has led to questions about the authenticity of India’s death numbers. On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump, in an effort to defend his own government’s record in minimising loss of lives, suggested that India was under-reporting deaths.
Many scientists and health experts do, in fact, believe that deaths in India might be somewhat under-reported, but no one is quite sure to what extent. The daily reporting of deaths remained steady between 1,000 and 1,200 in September. For most of the month, 80,000-90,000 new cases were reported every day. Any surge in cases is usually reflected in death numbers after a gap of about two weeks.