‘COVID deaths 8.4 to 9.8 times likely underreported in TN’


Arappor Iyakkam, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), on Tuesday alleging huge under-reporting of Covid fatalities, urged the Tamil Nadu government to audit and correctly report the death numbers.

The NGO in its report also called for issue/reissue of medical certificates for cause of death as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines.

Arappor Iyakkam came out with its study report based on the data released by six government hospitals – Government Rajaji Hospital, Madurai, Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, AMahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College and Hospital, Trichy, Vellore Medical College, Karur Medical College and ATirupur Government Headquarters Hospital-in Tamil Nadu.

These hospitals geographically cover the northern, western, central and southern parts of Tamil Nadu.

Data for the number of death certificates issued for male and female were collected for each day of the months of January to May 2021 for each of these six hospitals for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021. The data collected is as of June 13 from the website.

According to Arappor Iyakkam, an analysis of death data of six hospitals that is available online revealed that the total number of deaths for which death certificates have been issued in the months of April and May together stand at 4,437 and 3,261 for 2019 and 2020 respectively.

The number has shot up to 11,699 in April and May months of the year 2021.

On the other hand, the Arappor Iyakkam’s report finds that the total death of patients declared as Covid deaths in the months of April and May 2021 by the media bulletin of the Department of Health and Family Welfare is only 863 in these 6 hospitals, Arappor Iyakkam said.

In its report, the NGO said there is likely underreporting of Covid deaths in these six hospitals is at least 8.4 to 9.8 times more than the declared fatalities in the media bulletin for the months of April and May 2021.

As per the report, the pattern of death data is similar in the six hospitals.

“Approximating the same underreporting factor of 8.4 to 9.8 times for the entire state, the likely number of deaths due to Covid in TN (Tamil Nadu) may be between 108,721 and 126,841 against the reported number of 12,943,” the Arappor Iyakkam’s report states.

According to the report, the current scenario will greatly affect those who are eligible for compensation as the state government has said that having Covid in cause of death is mandatory for claiming compensation.

“Therefore, unless this massive underreporting is corrected, thousands and thousands of families will stand ineligible even though their family member died due to Covid,” the report said.

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