COVID-19 is now India’s leading cause of death

Six more states report more than 4 death / million, taking total to 11

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Monday 03 May 2021

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has emerged the biggest cause of death in India, according to the most recent estimates by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

Down To Earth warned of this eventuality last week.

An average 4,800 people died each day — 33,460 in a week (April 26, 2021) — way above the already high 2,700 deaths a day the week earlier.

The pandemic has moved up steadily from being the 26th position (February 22), causing an average 180 deaths per day — 1,273 a week.

The most fatal

Date  Weekly deaths  COVID-19 fatality ranke
Feb 22 1,273 26
Mar 08 1,399 23
Mar 15 1,733 18
Mar 22 2,443 17
Mar 29 3,720 15
Apr 12 10,488 5
Apr 19 18,271 2
April 26 33,460 1

Other top causes of deaths in India were ischemic heart disease (second), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (third), strokes (fourth), diarrhoeal diseases (fifth), neonatal disorders (sixth), lower respiratory infections (seventh), tuberculosis (eighth), diabetes mellitus (ninth) and chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis (tenth)

Death parade in more states

The death rate exceeded four per million in six states:

  • Haryana
  • Punjab
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Gujarat
  • Jharkhand
  • Karnataka

The situation was that bad only in Chhattisgarh, Delhui, Goa, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand in the week through April 19.

Deaths by COVID-19 (per million) on April 19 (left) and April 26 (right)


The death rate in those five states, meanwhile, worsened to over eight every million. 

What this means

Lives have been lost due to the lack of preparedness of governments, India’s poor health infrastructure, lack of medical oxygen and even medicines. 

Experts have also been unhappy with India’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement and pricing policy. States have to await their quota of vaccines. 

The Centre and state governments have been accused and held responsible by the Supreme Court and High Court for undermining the scale of crisis and failure to manage it.

The IHME advises governments to impose strict physical distancing norms for six weeks at least once deaths cross 8 per million.

The Supreme Court May 2 advised both Centre as well as states to resort to lockdowns if needed but to also ensure livelihoods weren’t impacted.

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