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Excess deaths in West Bengal 11 times official COVID-19 tally

Posted July 26th, 2021, 10:21 AM IST

Excess deaths in West Bengal 11 times official COVID-19 tally

The number of “excess deaths” registered by the Civil Registration System (CRS) in West Bengal ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit (from April 2020 to May 2021), was an estimated 1,20,227, which is 11.1 times the official reported figure of 10,787 deaths for the same period.

Five districts — Darjeeling, Jhargram, Kalimpong, North 24 Parganas and Paschim Medinipur — were not considered for this analysis as either the online registration data was incomplete for all years (Darjeeling and Kalimpong) or for some years, 2018 in particular (Jhargram, North 24 Parganas and Paschim Medinipur).

Relatives perform last rites of COVID-19 victims at Adarsh Nagar Moksha Dham, amid surge coronavirus cases in Jaipur.
Coronavirus | Spike in excess deaths during pandemic

The high multiple of excess deaths over the COVID-19 toll was a characteristic of both the first wave in 2020 and the more lethal second wave in 2021. The “excess deaths” figure for April to December 2020 of 64,520 was 9.4 times the COVID-19 toll (6,833) while the same for 2021 (55,207) was 14.1 times the COVID-19 toll (10,787). In April and May 2021 alone — a period that coincided with elections in the State, there were 51,353 “excess deaths”, 14.4 times the official COVID-19 death toll of 5,212 in these districts.

The overall COVID-19 death toll for all 23 districts as of 31 May 2021 was 15,536, which has since increased to 18,073 as of July 25.

The figures were arrived at from data on deaths registered month-wise in the online Civil Registration System from January 2018 to May 2021 in West Bengal and accessed by The Hindu. Data for Kolkata was added to the tally from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation figures. As with other States, not all excess deaths could be related to COVID-19, but a bulk of them will be, during the pandemic period.