“The actual deaths are likely to be several million, not hundreds of thousands, which would make this India’s greatest humanitarian tragedy since independence,” the researchers noted.
The Asian country experienced a devastating wave of the virus in April and May, spurred in part by the appearance of the Delta variant, identified there for the first time.
Its official death toll stands at 414,000, making it the third most mourning country after the United States (609,000) and Brazil (542,000).
Experts question these figures, attributing the errors more to the stress level of saturated health services than to deliberate manipulation.
In fact, several Indian states revised their balance sheets in recent weeks, adding thousands of late deaths.
The report of this center was based on studying “excess mortality”, the number of additional deaths compared to the period prior to the health crisis.
Its authors acknowledge that estimating mortality with statistical reliability is difficult, “but all estimates suggest that the death toll from the pandemic is of much greater magnitude than the official count,” they said.
Previous studies carried out by researchers in France and the United States evoked a death toll of 1.25 and 2.2 million people.
Last month, the Indian Health Ministry attacked The Economist magazine for claiming in an article that excess mortality was between five and seven times higher than the official balance. The ministry said the piece was “speculative” and “misinformed” .
A WHO report in May noted that up to three times more people died in the world during the pandemic (from coronavirus or other causes) than indicated in official statistics.