India Has Undercounted Covid-19 Deaths by Hundreds of Thousands, Families and Experts Say




India has officially recorded more than 390,000 coronavirus deaths, but families who have lost loved ones, health experts and statisticians say that vastly undercounts the true toll. Families like Mrs. Singh’s have been left struggling to get compensation that some states have set up for Covid-19 victims.

India’s undercount has also left a huge gap in the world’s understanding of the impact of the Delta variant, which health experts believe helped drive one of the world’s worst Covid-19 surges in April and May. India was the first to detect the highly infectious variant, which has hopscotched around the world. It is fueling a surge in the U.K., and is expected to become the dominant variant in the U.S.

The undercounting of infections and deaths is a problem world-wide, even in countries with widespread testing. The World Health Organization said last month that the global Covid-19 death toll could be two or three times the official number. The problem, however, is particularly acute in the developing world, where access to healthcare and coronavirus testing is often more limited.

To qualify for its Covid-19 compensation payment of 400,000 rupees, equivalent to about $5,400, the state requires a report from a certified lab, which at the time were taking days to process.The family got a test strip from the lab indicating that Mrs. Singh was positive and rushed to a doctor.
Health experts say many Covid-19 deaths have gone uncounted among India’s vast population of rural poor, who have little access to healthcare or Covid-19 testing.

Mr. Banaji, the mathematician, says the central government has tended to praise states with low death counts and castigate those with higher counts as incompetent. “This narrative of success and failure centered on fatality numbers is very dangerous,” he said.

Author(s): Shan Li, Suryatapa Bhattacharya, Vibhuti Agarwal

Publication Date: 17 June 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

Cuomo Accepts Some Blame in Nursing Home Scandal but Denies Cover-Up



More than 15,000 people have died from the coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities. But as recently as late January, the state was reporting only about 8,500 fatalities, excluding virus-related deaths that occurred physically outside of those facilities, such as in hospitals.

About two weeks ago, the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, accused the Cuomo administration of severely undercounting those deaths connected to nursing homes. Hours later, the state updated those numbers, adding thousands of deaths to the official tally. Since then, a court order has resulted in more updates, further increasing the number of deaths.

Ms. James’s assertion of an undercount of total deaths of nursing home residents fueled accusations that the Cuomo administration may have artificially depressed the number of those deaths to try to deflect blame for a policy set early in the pandemic: sending nursing home residents who had been hospitalized with the coronavirus back to the nursing homes.

The governor has said the state was following federal guidelines in returning the residents and trying to increase hospital capacity, assertions that he repeated on Monday, while also denying any suggestion that he was making any decision because of political calculations. “These decisions are not political decisions,” he said.

Author(s): Jesse McKinley

Publication Date: 15 February 2021

Publication Site: NY Times