Himachal Pradesh ‘excess deaths’ twice the official COVID-19 toll -Srinivasan Ramani

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published Published on Jul 21, 2021   modified Modified on Jul 21, 2021

-The Hindu

State registers the lowest undercount factor in north India

The number of “excess deaths” registered by the Civil Registration System (CRS) in Himachal Pradesh ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit (from April 2020 to May 2021) was 6,081, which is 1.9 times the official reported figure of 3,127 COVID-19 deaths for the same period.

This multiple is among the lowest for States for which excess deaths have been calculated. Interestingly, while the number of registered deaths peaked in May 2021 (7,267), excess deaths for 2021 were only 1.6 times the official tally unlike the months of April to December 2020 (corresponding to the first wave) when they were 2.8 times the official tally. In 2021, there were an estimated 3,543 excess deaths compared with the official tally of 2,205 (till May 2021). Between April and December 2020, there were an estimated 2,538 excess deaths compared with the 922 deaths related to COVID-19.

The figures were arrived at from data on deaths registered month-wise in the online CRS from January 2018 to May 2021 in Himachal Pradesh and accessed by The Hindu. Not all excess deaths could be related to COVID-19, but a bulk of them will be, during the pandemic period.

The online data showed that 40,133 and 40,970 deaths were registered in 2018 and 2019 respectively in the State in the CRS, which are close to 96% and 94% of the deaths reported by the Annual Report on Vital Statistics based on CRS-2019 for these years.

The excess deaths were calculated as the difference between the registered deaths in the pandemic period and the average number of deaths registered in 2018 and 2019 for the same months. The excess deaths being a lower multiple in 2021 could either be a reflection of a lag in registration of deaths or a more accurate count of the dead due to COVID-19 and related factors. But the CRS-2019 report mentions that 92.1% of the death registrations are completed within 21 days of the occurrence in Himachal Pradesh.

The report also estimates that around 86.4% of the total deaths in the State were registered. This suggests that the excess death count and therefore the multiple could go up a bit more if all deaths are accounted for in later years compared with previous ones.

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The Hindu, 21 July, 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/himachal-pradesh-excess-deaths-twice-the-official-covid-19-toll/article35430252.ece?homepage=true


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