Indicating a possible massive undercounting in COVID-19 deaths in Madhya Pradesh, the number of reported deaths in the state during the second wave of the pandemic was over three times more than the average number of deaths reported during these months in pre-Covid times.
However, the official figures for Covid deaths are only a fraction of these excess deaths reported.
According to data from the Civil Registration System, which was first accessed by journalist Rukmini S, 59,000 deaths were reported on an average in Madhya Pradesh, in the April-May period of 2018 and 2019.
However, during these two months this year, which also marked the peak of the second wave, 2.3 lakh deaths were reported in the state. This marks a 290 per cent increase compared to the average deaths in these months during pre-Covid times.
Most of these 1.74 lakh excess deaths were reported in May (1.3 lakh deaths).
However, the government’s data on Covid deaths for April and May show that only 4,100 people died of Covid in Madhya Pradesh in these two months. This is only a fraction of the excess deaths reported during this time, raising the question of whether Madhya Pradesh is possibly undercounting Covid deaths.
This is not the first time that questions have been raised about Madhya Pradesh’s Covid deaths data. NDTV earlier reported that in April this year, in Bhopal district alone, figures compiled from crematoriums and cemeteries showed that 3,811 people with Covid had died. However, government data showed only 104 Covid deaths in the district in April.
The Madhya Pradesh government did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.
On Thursday, Bihar’s massive revision in its Covid deaths figure to over 9,000 became controversial with a 72 per cent jump, raising more questions. Because of Bihar’s update, India reported 6,148 new deaths that day, the highest single-day spike.