India Excess Pandemic Deaths Estimated at 4 Million

A new set of reports of excess mortality estimates for India from three different data sources from the pandemic’s start through June 2021.

1. extrapolation of state-level civil registration from seven states suggests 3.4 million excess deaths.
2. applying international estimates of age-specific infection fatality rates (IFR) to Indian seroprevalence data implies a higher toll of around 4 million.
3. An analysis of the Consumer Pyramid Household Survey, a longitudinal panel of over 800,000 individuals across all states, yields an estimate of 4.9 million excess deaths.

Each of these estimates has shortcomings and they also diverge in the pattern of deaths between the two waves of the pandemic. Estimating COVID-deaths with statistical confidence may prove elusive. But all estimates suggest that the death toll from the pandemic is likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the official count of 400,000; they also suggest that the first wave was more lethal than is believed. Understanding and engaging with the data-based estimates is necessary because in this horrific tragedy the counting and the attendant accountability—will count for now but also the future.

Three New Estimates of India’s AllCause Excess Mortality during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Abhishek Anand, Justin Sandefur, and Arvind Subramanian

Anand, Abhishek; Justin Sandefur; and Arvind Subramanian, 2021. “Three New Estimates of India’s All-Cause Excess Mortality
during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” CGD Working Paper 589. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development. https://cgdev.

They provide code and workbooks to replicate all their calculations here: The CPHS microdata are available by subscription from CMIE. More information on
CGD’s research data and code disclosure policy can be found here:

Sources: Center for Global Development
Written by Brian Wang,

4 thoughts on “India Excess Pandemic Deaths Estimated at 4 Million”

  1. As most of India is exceedingly poor and is ignored by the government, likely a lot more people died of COVID that will never be counted.

  2. Given that most of the population contracted covid wouldn't this imply that for a relatively younger population with a relatively poor health infrastructure that the mortality rate was 3 tenths of a percent?

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