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Why India's low coronavirus death rate has experts worried

September 11, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

For months, India has been struggling to control the coronavirus pandemic with limited success.

The country of 1. 3 billion people has the second-highest number of cases globally (more than 4. 4 million), and the third highest number of deaths (over 75,000), according to Johns Hopkins University -- and the outbreak shows no sign of abating.

But India's reported mortality rate -- calculated by the number of deaths per 100 confirmed cases -- is surprisingly low compared to other countries with high infection rates.

The Indian government claims India's lower death rate is a sign of its success in handling the crisis, and has used the figure to support its decision to lift some coronavirus restrictions.

The number of coronavirus cases in India may be rising, but the mortality rate is dropping.

India isn't counting all Covid deaths

Antibody tests suggest that India may be undercounting infections by a factor 50 to 100, Laxminarayan said -- meaning that although the country's official total is 4. 4 million cases, the "true" number could be upwards of 100 million.

And even if a Covid-19 patient tested positive before dying, they might not be counted as a Covid-19 death if they had other preexisting conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, said Shewade, as these could be recorded as the cause of death.

So how many Covid deaths does India actually have?

Until then, while India's mortality rate may be lower than in the US or countries in Western Europe, Laxminarayan said that doesn't mean people should stop taking precautions.

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