Preprint Brief Report Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Estimating COVID-19 Related Mortality in India: An Epidemiological Challenge with Insufficient Data

Version 1 : Received: 24 May 2021 / Approved: 25 May 2021 / Online: 25 May 2021 (15:06:40 CEST)

How to cite: Zimmermann, L.; Salvatore, M.; Babu, G.; Mukherjee, B. Estimating COVID-19 Related Mortality in India: An Epidemiological Challenge with Insufficient Data. Preprints 2021, 2021050617 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0617.v1). Zimmermann, L.; Salvatore, M.; Babu, G.; Mukherjee, B. Estimating COVID-19 Related Mortality in India: An Epidemiological Challenge with Insufficient Data. Preprints 2021, 2021050617 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202105.0617.v1).

Abstract

The harrowing second wave of COVID-19 in India has led to much discussion over the quality and timeliness of reporting of deaths attributed to the pandemic. In this brief report, we aim to present the existing evidence, as well as the broader complexities surrounding the mortality burden of COVID-19 in India. This article sheds light on the following epidemiological issues: (1) general and India-specific challenges to COVID-19 death reporting, (2) latest COVID-19 mortality estimates in India as of May 16, 2021, (3) the apparent scale of uncaptured COVID-19 deaths, and (4) the role of disaggregated historic mortality trends in quantification of excess deaths attributed to COVID-19. We conclude with a set of high-level policy recommendations for improving the vital surveillance system and tracking of causes of death in India. We encourage direct efforts to integrate health data and indirect strategies for cross-validation of registered deaths. Such system-wide advances would drastically aid epidemiological research efforts and strengthen India’s position to overcome future public health crises.

Subject Areas

COVID-19; India; mortality data

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