India's COVID Death Toll Officially Crosses Half Million Mark

© REUTERS / AMIT DAVEA woman mourns after seeing the body of a relative, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside a mortuary of a COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India, February 4, 2022.
A woman mourns after seeing the body of a relative, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside a mortuary of a COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India, February 4, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.02.2022
According to the federal health ministry, the total number of deaths due to COVID as pf Friday is 500,055, with 1,072 fatalities being registered over the last 24 hours.
India has become the third nation in the world, following the USA and Brazil, to have witnessed 500,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.
The USA has reported more than 896,000 deaths and in Brazil the virus has claimed nearly 630,000 lives, according to the John Hopkins University.
Besides being the world's second-most populous nation with almost 1.4 billion people, India has reported 41.8 million COVID cases, which puts it only behind the USA in terms of case volume.
According to the Indian Health Ministry's data, the country hit the 400,000-mark on 1 July 2021, meaning it took the country 217 days to reach a death toll of 500,000. It is also the longest amount of time the country has taken to post an additional 100,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, many studies published worldwide and within the country have suggested that the country's actual death toll could be six times the reported body count, as a million cases were alleged to be not registered, a claim which the federal health ministry has dismissed on many occasions.
In January, researchers from Canada, India, and the United States, in a study published in the peer review journal Science, estimated that roughly three million COVID deaths during the country's first and second waves of infection remain unaccounted for by the Indian officials.
Another study published in July 2021 by the Center for Global Development found 3.4 million to nearly 5 million excess deaths may have occurred in India between the start of the pandemic and June 2021.
However, health officials have on many occasions rejected such claims.

"There can be a possibility, given the lack of adequate testing facilities in the initial wave of the pandemic on under-reporting of death. But with the revamp of COVID 19 diagnostic facilities that are currently available, under-reporting may be decreased to a great extent," Dr. Viswesvaran Balasubramanian of the Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, told Sputnik.

Dr. Balasubramanian further underlined that people are turning up after the Supreme Court of India mandated compensation for COVID deaths in October 2021.
Speaking about the overall situation on how India handled the pandemic, he said, "India has performed extremely well in mitigating the morbidity and mortality associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, given the magnitude of the population affected."
Speaking about the sudden increase of cases and death during the second wave (April -May 2021), he said, "Primary reasons that could be attributed to the increased number of deaths in second wave are lack of adequate vaccinations and increase in the virulency of the delta variant in the second wave which affected not only the elderly but also the young with no comorbidities."
To prevent a surge and reduce morbidities, the government has so far vaccinated three-fourths of the eligible 939-million adult population with a mandatory two-dose regime.
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