Title: Three New Estimates of Indias All-Cause Excess Mortality during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Authors: Arvind Subramanian, Abhishek Anand, Justin Sandefur
Discussant: Murad Banaji

We conducted the 12th Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar on July 15 2021 at 8.30 PM IST (11 AM ET/ 8 AM PT / 4 PM UK).

Event Summary

The researchers presented findings from their paper on all-cause excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation lasted 45 minutes and was attended by an audience of over 130 individuals. Their study extends the ongoing examination of the massive surge in mortality during the pandemic.

The authors constructed estimates using the Civil Registration System (CRS), the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS), and the Seroprevalence surveys. The figures obtained were 3.4-4.4 million, 4.7 million, and 6.1 million excess deaths respectively, across 2 waves. Compared to these, the official estimate was 0.4 million excess deaths.

Prof Subramanian discussed the method of arriving at the figures and the limitations of each estimate. While CRS data was only available for a few states and undercounted deaths, the reliability of seroprevalence surveys, and the validity of applying the international Infection Fatality Rates to India was not assured. For CPHS, the authors were unable to validate the data against other sources and found a mortality spike in 2019.

Murad Banaji, serving as the discussant, spoke about various concerns associated with surveys and registration systems, such as biases with sampling and weighting, choosing a baseline, and drops in registrations. He emphasized the importance of having an accurate age profile in sample data given the age dependence of mortality and discussed the applicability of the IFR to India.

Following a discussion on the comments between Prof. Subramanian and Prof. Murad, Mahesh Vyas, CEO of CMIE, spoke about the age profile of the CPHS sample. Prof Sandefur responded to Q/As and suggestions from the audience regarding areas for future work.

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