Massive COVID Undercount in India and Africa

NPR reports that an Indian village with 1600 people had fifty people die from COVID in the past two weeks. Most of them died at home, gasping for breath, with fevers. Only five or six of them were officially counted as COVID-19 deaths.

Across India, there are shortages of testing kits, hospital beds, medical oxygen and antiviral drugs, as a severe second wave of the pandemic crushes India’s health infrastructure.

India spends 1% of its GDP on its healthcare system.

India has officially counted 19 million known infections since the start of the pandemic, or roughly 1.3% of the total population and the recent daily total is just over 400,000 cases.

This is being undercounted by 5 to 10 times.

Across India, funeral pyres light up the night sky. Playgrounds and parking lots in the capital New Delhi have been converted into mass cremation grounds.

Mass funeral pyres all over the country does not match up with an official daily COVID death count of 3000.

No Good Death Counts and Records in Most of Africa Under Normal Circumstances

Only eight African countries record their dead which means there are no good tracking of COVID or any other cause of death. Only Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles and Mauritius functioning, compulsory and universal civil registration systems (CRVS systems) which record deaths.

The other countries have paper-based systems which are used for some local services.

It is impossible to calculate “excess deaths” because of the lack of national digital records.

The medical and health systems are poor which results in high infant and maternal mortality. It also means that diseases are often not diagnosed or treated.

More Indirect Deaths than COVID Deaths

There is likely indirect COVID deaths and COVID deaths that are missed. The pandemic can overstretch health systems, fear of attending hospital and an economic downturn. A Lancet study across 118 low-income and middle-income countries estimated that the continued disruption of health systems from Covid-19 could result in 1,157,000 additional child deaths and 56,700 additional maternal deaths.

South Africa had recorded over 150,000 excess deaths since the pandemic began – that is almost three times the official figure given for Covid-19 deaths.

If COVID is hitting other countries in Africa the same as it is hitting South Africa then there are over 1 million COVID deaths and 3 million indirect deaths caused by COVID’s impact on health systems.

Written by Brian Wang,

25 thoughts on “Massive COVID Undercount in India and Africa”

  1. So true, sam. In the US, the reported deaths were wildly exaggerated, to get that bonus check from the government.
    I've talked to medical workers who said they were ordered to put "covid" as the cause of death for every patient unless it was a gunshot wound or a traffic fatality.

    One of my friends lost his mother last year. She was in her 90's and dying anyway. One thing she didn't have was a breathing problem. Nobody wore masks around her because she was dying of natural causes. Death certificate said covid. Total lie.

    Someone cashed a check for lying on the death certificate.

  2. Not to worry, fear will keep them home. The daily infections will abate some what in a few days, then slowly fall for the next few weeks.

  3. They all have to dispose of the dead. If you want to know what's going on, ask the funeral homes, the crematories, or the cemeteries. Many countries lie for political reasons. Some countries have no idea what's going on.

  4. Wikipedia is an excellent 1st round source for most information. As good as any of the more traditional sources, such as Encyclopedia Britannica. It's not the final word, but a great place to start so you know the overall shape of the field and get the list of appropriate terms to look up for more detailed and nuanced views.

    Where it falls down is when dealing with subjects that are subject to current political debate. That's when you end up not trusting whomever ended up most recently distorting the articles to match their personal stance.
    Unfortunately, our current plague is just such a political subject.

  5. So hard to know what is real and what is not. Let's say 10,000 people die per day and become pyre. That would look horrifically bad. (And get some clickbait artist tons of clicks).

    So, without Covid, how many in India would die per day? 1.3 billion people with a pre-Covid annual death rate of 7.35 per thousand. 1,300,000,000 x .00735 = 995,500 deaths per year. 955,500 / 365 days per year = 26,178 deaths per day pre-Covid.

    So, how many people are dying of Covid each day in India? NOBODY knows. Even 10,000 pyres/day mean nothing.

    I do worry about India and Africa and Malaysia and Indonesia and the Philippines and South America and China (and the whole world). Covid is dangerous for the elderly and obese and diabetic and cardiac impaired and the immunocompromised. In societies that cannot socially distance, it will kill 10's of millions. Masks are almost worthless if people are constantly within 3 feet of each other and/or are breathing in a closed environment.

    Compliance with the lockdowns is almost impossible in most parts of the world. In addition, social distancing is almost impossible in most parts of the world. Have you ever been to a large city outside of the US/Japan/South Korea/~most of Europe? The slums of Detroit and Baltimore look like heaven in comparison. How are people going to live if they can't go get food and water? How are they going to socially distance when a huge part of the population lives on top of each other?

  6. Citing Wikipedia as a source for anything but Hollywood news or obscure trivia is probably not the best idea.

  7. These vague and dire warnings of catastrophe remind me of the early reports from Wuhan. Back when they were talking about a 3% to 5% mortality rate.

  8. And that was back in February so it would be much higher now. So why hasn't India reached herd immunity then?

  9. In relation to your argument and premise about nationalism and China overtaking the USA.The belief that China will eclipse the USA is not certain. The economic problems of China are enormous, which will only be increased by there rising demographic problems and rising authoritarian behaviour. These demographic problems will start to cause serious economic problems after the year 2030.I find it odd how you are using the premise of being against nationalistic behaviour to defend China. As the government is actively engaging in widespread forced sinofication of its ethnic minorities. As well as promoting and supporting nationalistic and bigotry behaviour by the media and numerous of politicians against numerous of countries and there people.

  10. There is substantial amount of misinformation and wrongness with your argument and premise. In relation to the lab leaks.It’s absolutely absurd calling the lab theory a conspiracy theory. While current evidence suggest the virus is probably of natural origin, it does not indicate that a lab theory is not possible. The fact that this virus contains so many interesting and untypical zoonotic characteristics clearly indicate that this can not be simply dismissed as a conspiracy theory.These characteristics include a low rate of evolution in the early phase of transmission. The lack of evidence for recombination events. The high pre-existing binding to human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The novel furin cleavage site (FCS) insert. A spike protein with a flat ganglioside-binding domain (GBD). A spike protein that conflicts with host evasion survival patterns exhibited by other coronaviruses. Geographic closeness to several BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs that have engaged in risky  research such as gain of function on numerous of Corona viruses. Discovery of no  zoonotic origin. A history of Coronaviruses laboratory leaks within the country.

  11. well, I have video proof but I cant upload it to YT as it gets blocked immediately, even during processing.
    In any case, I am living here – you are just someone sprouting his "theories" from afar. I leave it to the reader to decide who has better insights.
    Denial is not a river in Egypt!

  12. This is a perfect example of the insanity on display, I hope you use it as a learning experience. The study itself decided to find out if Ivermectin cured mild covid, which they found it does not change the infection timeline. That is not the the signal that was noticed. It was noticed that there was about an 80% reduction in hospitalizations. Anyone that would tout that study as proof Ivermectin shouldn't be used is a complete fraud. To this date there has been no US study on the effectiveness of HCQ, Ivermectin, or Budesonide as a preventer of hospitalization and death. Instead our agencies refused to even look at those off patent medications while pushing the on-patent Remdesivir at $3k/dose, which they were forced to stop using after it turned out to have no effect on outcomes and caused heart damage. We experienced pure medical fascism. There was even an EO signed by Trump and left in place by Biden that indemnifies hospitals from treating you with safe medicines that show extreme promise in the fight against covid. I hope you have the wherewithal to understand how insane this is, and not to trust everything you read on Wikipedia. Go ahead and read the referenced study, they point out they didn't track any outcomes of severe infections.

  13. Even it somehow it was born in China, almost all experts say it has natural source, only few tinfoil conspiracy theorists, in all cases China haters believe and spread China lab theory. And this theory isn't even logical and doesn't make any sense for people who actually have correctly working brain cells. Why China would infect itself? More probable from a tinfoil, conspiracy point of view theory is that US made virus and planted it in China to slow China rise.

    Either way, covid or not, China would still quickly rise and soon be nr 1, covid could accelerate rise by few months at best. In grand scheme of things its irrelevant.

    China even before covid was growing many times faster than US, and still is, so overtaking US was already work in very advanced progress. Better get used to new reality or you would be depressed in next decades, stress could even shorten your life…
    Growing up from silly nationalism, tribalism, regionalism could also help…
    Start thinking about humanity as one, one civilization, one big family, each country achievement in humanity achievement, each scientific discovery or technological development, from whatever artificial construct we call 'country' is humanity achievement, our achievemnt not "theirs". They are us, we are them. We all come from one source, first cell

  14. Many Chinese people hope that the Covid that they have inflicted on India and the world is such a blow that they will rise out of it as a sole superpower with US behind and India not much of a thing. Actually it will be shown that the Covid Plague is just a temporary break for China, after it the same structural problems and dictatorial regime will continue pounding China as before while the rest of the world recovers to a better start.

  15. Probably mostly lies considering the news source. Why aren't they getting Ivermectin and Budesonide for $5 a person, would mean a 90% reduction in death for those who actually caught it. I got a prescription of Ivermectin from my doctor in case I get Covid-1984 or want to use it as a prophylaxis. It is one of the safest medicines on earth with a 70-80% reduction in covid hospitalizations. Budesonide is associated with a 90% reduction.

  16. They should have been manufacturing and distributing billions of N95 masks. And enforcing wearing them right. And they needed a bit more alacrity in getting people vaccinated.
    Forget the "stay at home stuff", but isolate communities from one another. Just permit trucks to go from one community to another but stay in the trucks or go to designated places they can rest and use restrooms. I am thinking a lot of Porta Potties and rest stops. And test drivers frequently with IR thermometer guns.
    But obviously they need to get everyone back to their home communities…like they neglected to do earlier stranding laborers.
    I suppose the rich got their vaccinations, then the urgency disappeared?

  17. The situation seems to be quite dire. The kind of catastrophic scenario all the medicine professionals across the world were afraid of: a relaxation of social distancing in a populous country, with a following big wave of contagions with a saturated healthcare system, unable to cope with the wave of sick people.

    Not enough vaccines, oxygen, beds, funerary services…

    India, as one of the most populous countries on Earth, was always at high risk of this.

    Nevertheless, it seems the government is one of the populist kind that has ensnared the world in the last few years, catering to the minimum common denominator of the voters, and unable or unwilling to rein public events and religious gatherings to not tarnish its popularity, resulting in this calamity.

    I really hope things get better soon, but it seems it will be really bad before it gets better.

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