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.
The institute’s modeling suggests the true Covid-19 death toll in India exceeds 1.1 million, close to three times the reported number.
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.
Some states and cities in India have revised their death tolls after criticism by politicians and judges, but experts say the adjustments fall far short.
A recent investigation in the state of Bihar found nearly 4,000 more Covid-19 deaths, raising its toll by over 72%. They included deaths at home, as well as in private hospitals and from health complications related to Covid, said Dr. Sunil Kumar, the Bihar state secretary for the Indian Medical Association.
To have a death counted, families have to produce test results from a certified lab or confirmation of infection from the healthcare system-but often, like Mrs. Singh’s family, they don’t have the required paperwork.
Dr. Kumar said he has treated patients who died after suffering from common Covid-19 symptoms, but because their families couldn’t produce a positive test the deaths weren’t included in the recent count.