Title: All-cause mortality during SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic in India: Nationally-representative estimates independent of official death registry
Authors: Anup Malani, Sabareesh Ramachandran
Discussant: Chinmay Tumbe

We conducted the 11th Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar on July 8 2021 at 8.30 PM IST (11 AM ET/ 8 AM PT / 4 PM UK).

Event Summary

The authors presented findings from their investigation into all-cause mortality during the pandemic in India. Given the context of undercounted deaths, their work extends the literature on the subject by bringing out more reliable estimates from recent data.

To address undercounting, the authors used deaths independent of official statistics from CMIE’s CPHS dataset. The authors discussed the possible concerns in using CPHS as the data source for mortality, given it was not designed to be a mortality survey, and provided solutions for each.

Using a regression to quantify the COVID effect, with 2019 as the baseline, the authors estimated the annualized death rate to be 0.185%. Disaggregating by wave, they found that the death rate in wave 1 was lower at 0.119%, and higher in 2 at 0.336%. Overall, this translated into 2.2-3.3 million excess deaths. Additionally, the authors arrived at a figure of 0.03% for all-cause infection fatality rate, which was lower than developed countries.

Chinmay Tumbe, the discussant for the study, began by describing the historical context of estimating pandemic mortality. He suggested that the authors examine the split between all-cause vs COVID mortality in more detail, and investigate what might be leading to these excess deaths apart from COVID-19. For future work, he recommended that the authors chart the deaths across the months to study whether they match the existing waves, and that they disaggregate their estimates further by state and district.

Following the discussion, the authors responded to the audience’s remaining questions and discussed a novel approach to using the CPHS member roster.

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