Former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian On India's Missing Covid Deaths: Highlights

Former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian on India's unaccounted death.

Former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian speaks to NDTV On India's missing Covid deaths after a new study put the country's unaccounted fatalities close to 50 lakh.


  • We need to be very clear, we will never have a satisfactory answer to this. The health information system is not as good
  • It is our best guess- it can be little less, it can be little more. Such high sero prevalance, such large population, this (number of deaths) is what we were expecting to find. We can't measure deaths in India reasonably

  • Age-specific number comes from international estimates. Chance of dying, if you are infected is more in India.

  • These are called all cause excess deaths which has become the standard way to measure deaths during a pandemic

  • The only question here is how much undercounting

  • It is an effort at arriving that what exactly happened

  • Nowhere in this study we said that the government is fudging data. We have traditional weakness in our capacity to do this. It is just that our systems are not as good as they should be

  • We all need to know the full scale of the catastrophe to learn a lesson and be prepared for future

  • The counting of the CRS deaths are available for seven states with good data and several cities. These seven states account for 50 per cent of India's population

  • For most of the states the data is till May, the June data isn't in yet. So, this is an ongoing process

  • In Uttar Pradesh, the study suggests the first wave death numbers are better recorded than the second wave. The second wave numbers are extremely low

  • There's no substitute for good government data based on surveys. That needs to be done efficiently and quickly. There has to be a kind of willingness to find out the real numbers.

  • In this pandemic, no government and society has come out looking good. All the countries have made serious mistakes

  • The state governments must also undertake serious surveys to know what happened. We need multiple sources