COVID-19 now 2nd biggest cause of death in India

Lack of preparedness makes for an asphyxiating crisis in just 8 weeks

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Friday 30 April 2021

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has emerged the second-biggest cause of death in India In a span of merely eight weeks, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated.

COVID-19 overtook chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to be only behind ischemic heart disease among leading causes of death in the country: It killed an average 2,600 deaths a day (April 19, 2021), or 18,271 a week.

The pandemic jumped from the 26th position (Feb 22), causing an average 180 deaths per day, or 1,273 a week. 

An increasingly fatal pandemic

Date  Weekly deaths  COVID rank in India as the leading cause of death 
Feb-22, 2021 1273 26
Mar-08, 2021 1399 23
Mar-15. 2021 1733 18
Mar-22, 2021 2443 17
Mar-29, 2021 3720 15
Apr-12, 2021,  10488 5
Apr-19, 2021 18,271 2

Source: IHME

Down to Earth April 18 had warned that a rising toll could put COVID ahead of diabetes as the seventh-worst cause of death, based on the seven-day rolling average of new deaths.

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

Will COVID-19 beat heart diseases

There were the most unprecedented rise in daily new COVID-19 cases and deaths in April, following T a consistent spike in the daily figures since Feb 11: 340,140 cases on April 27, up from 11,145 on Feb 11. 

India recorded 3,645 COVID-19 deaths 28 April, according to the Union health ministry. The toll increased 56 per cent in preceding seven days.

The death row 

Date Daily new deaths  increase (in %)
21-Apr 2104 4.00
22-Apr 2263 7.56
23-Apr 2624 15.95
24-Apr 2767 5.45
25-Apr 2812 1.63
26-Apr 2771 -1.46
27-Apr 3293 18.84

Underestimating a man-made crisis

More than 208,000 people have died of COVID-19, records state; but the real toll may be higher in, according to experts and media reports. 

This pandemic is deadlier than the deadliest natural disasters that stuck India in the last two decades.

Natural disasters like the floods and cyclones have been attributed to impacts of climate attributed to human activities. COVID-19, especially its second wave, too can be said to be a man-made disaster: Lives were lost due to lack of preparedness and the poor state of health infrastructure.

The ‘double mutant’ B.1.617 Indian variant of SARS-CoV-2 has heightened risk; but more importantly, an already poor healthcare infrastructure crumbled across the country; lack of medical oxygen endangered lives, even extinguished them. 

The Union health minister should stop consoling the country by saying that India’s case fatality rate (CFR) is the lowest at 1.11 per cent, because in absolute numbers it is an inhumanely large toll.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.