COVID underreporting: SBI economists say death reporting shortfall not a new phenomenon

Express News Service
PATNA: A CPI-ML team, after travelling across10 districts in Bihar, has said that the actual number of  Covid deaths in the state could be 10-20 times more than the official government figures.

The team, comprising of  CPI-ML politburo member and AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan, editor of CPI-ML contemporary Lok-Yudh Santosh Sahar and members of Central Social Media Group, including Arun Kumar. conducted random visits across 10 districts including Bhojpur.

As per state government, more than 9,625 Covid-deaths were reported in the state during the first and the second waves of pandemic but the CPI-ML teams’ findings estimate the Covid death figures to be around 1 lakh.

Kavita Krishnan said that deaths with symptoms akin to Covid-19 in bulk have gone unreported in interiors of districts in the state. She said: “In fact, compilations of deaths and other documentations are in progress but there is no denying the fact that if unreported deaths are added, the toll of Covid would be 10 to 20 times higher than the official figures”.

The teams stated the visit from Pawana village in Bhojpur district on July 7 and travelled across Bhojpur, Rohtas, Arwal, Paliganj, Chakia and Sheikhpura in Patna, Siwan, Darbhanga, Jehanabad, Arwal and other districts.

Giving an example, Krishnan said that government had reported zero death from Pasora village in Bhojpur district but when she along with other members randomly enquired in the village, they found about 18 unreported deaths with symptoms akin to Covid.

She said that details of findings with the figures of deaths after compilations would be submitted the Patna High Court and the media soon.

Kunal, secretary of Bihar unit of CPI-ML, said that the teams took stock of the deaths due to coronavirus in these villages since last April and also interacted with the relatives, dependents and villagers of the deceased and recorded their statements.

Citing a finding, Kunal said that very few people with symptoms akin to Covid were able to reach the hospitals and succumbed on way to the hospitals. “Many people didn’t go government hospitals due to the poor condition of the hospitals, acute shortage of oxygen or other treatment facilities, the fear of quarantine and fear of not getting the bodies of relatives after deaths due Covid”, Kunal said.

The team also found that an year since the Covid outbreak, there are still many misconceptions among the people.  The information regarding wearing masks, washing hands and protection has not reached the bottom level at all.  

“Hesitancy for vaccination still runs high in rural areas because of deficit of trust of the people in theModi-Nitish government.  However, it was also found that this fear has steadily subsided and people want to take the Covid vaccine”, Kavita Krishnan said.