UP Covid toll may be more than official number: Report
A report published by Suarav Das in the news website Article 14 shows that Uttar Pradesh’s Covid-19 tally could be a huge underestimate. The report’s findings are based on a comparison of the official Covid-19 tally in 24 districts of the state between July 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, with the total excess deaths reported in the Civil Registration System (CRS) during the same period. The data on deaths was obtained through a Right To Information (RTI) application.
Uttar Pradesh government, however, countered the report saying that all the Covid and non-Covid deaths in the state are being registered in a transparent manner.
“The government is registering all the Covid and non-Covid deaths, the data is being regularly updated, the registration of death data is transparent in the state. The non- Covid as well as Covid deaths are being registered in all the 75 districts, the local authorities as well as birth and death registration cell has been directed to register all the births and deaths in the respective districts. The correct birth and death data is important for the welfare and development schemes,” said spokesperson and MSME minister Siddharth Nath Singh.
Excess death or mortality is a generalised term that refers to the total number of deaths from all causes during a crisis that is above and beyond what would have been expected under regular conditions.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, this data is being used to count the number of deaths that would not have occurred had the pandemic not taken place. Information on CRS statistics for the pandemic’s period has been obtained by various news organisations to estimate the degree of undercounting of Covid-19 related mortality in official death tolls by various states.
Before the latest Article 14 findings, similar estimates have been published for Andhra Pradesh (Scroll), Assam (Scroll), Karnataka (The News Minute), Madhya Pradesh (Scroll), and Tamil Nadu (The Hindu).
According to the data compiled by How India Lives, the official Covid-19 deaths reported in the 24 districts , Agra, Aligarh, Amethi, Ballia, Balrampur, Bareilly, Basti, Firozabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad, Ghazipur, Jhansi, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur Nagar, Kheri, Lucknow, Mathura, Meerut, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Pratapgarh, Rampur, Sonbhadra and Unnao , for which Article 14 has managed to get the numbers, between July 1, 2020 and March, 31, 2021 were 4,068.
The total number of deaths recorded in the CRS in these districts, according to a Right to Information reply obtained by Article 14 was 375,000. CRS shows only 178,000 deaths in these districts between July, 1 2019 and March 31, 2020. This gives an excess of 197,000 deaths in the pandemic year.
While all the extra deaths cannot be ascribed to Covid-19 , this does provide a proxy of the extra mortality which could have been caused by the pandemic.