Excess deaths are a measure of how many people have died compared to what is expected from previous years. India is one of the few major economies that does not yet have an estimate for that number during the pandemic.
US-based researchers looked at deaths in seven states – which make up half of India’s population.
They also looked at antibody tests nationwide that gave them insight into infection death rates by age.
Third, they analyzed a survey of 868,000 people, asking them if a family member had died in the past four months.
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Dr Jacob John, from Christian Medical College in Vellore, southern India, was not a researcher for this project, but said it highlights the devastating impact of the pandemic on the country and its unprepared health system.
“This analysis reiterates the observations of other intrepid investigative journalists who have highlighted the massive undercoverage of deaths,” he told The Associated Press.
Many Indian journalists have also published higher death tolls than recorded in some states using government data.