The national Covid-19 death ratio was 1% in the week ending May 7 and rose steadily through the month as the second wave peaked in mid-May. It remained 1.1% from mid-May till last week but climbed up. As per health ministry statistics, on Monday death ratio was 1.17% or rounded off to 1.2%.
Public Health Foundation of India’s chief of epidemiology division, Giridhara R Babu, told ET, “there is a time lag of 14-20 days between cases reported and deaths. India’s second wave peaked in mid-May so the case fatality rate would increase even if the Covid-19 numbers decline.”
The increase in death ratio has been driven by 18 states and Union territories with rates above the national average. Punjab continued to have the highest death ratio since beginning of May. At present, Punjab ratio has increased to 2.55% (from 2.38% in the first week of May). It is followed by Uttarakhand, where the ration went up from 1.49% to 1.95%. Others with ratios higher than the national average include Delhi, Goa (1.69%), Nagaland (1.68%), Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim (1.65%), Maharashtra (1.64%) Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1.63%), Meghalaya (1.6%), Manipur (1.59%), Jharkhand (1.48%), Puducherry (1.46%), Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir (1.34%), Chandigarh (1.24%), Gujarat (1.22%) and Uttar Pradesh (1.2%).
The death rate in the second wave has been lower than the first, but in absolute numbers the figure is higher as the total infected has been much higher. “In the first wave, mostly a proportion of patients with severe respiratory distress died. In the second wave, people were on ventilatory support longer. At the same time, persons with moderate illness did not get oxygenated beds and their conditions deteriorated further into severe respiratory distress and faced higher risk of deaths. So many people died because of lack of medical care. Even 0.8% or 1% of infected people dying is a very big number, as the total cases are substantially high,” said Babu.
At present, the caseload is being pushed up by southern and northeastern states. The death ratio is increasing in the regions too. Karnataka, which had a death ratio of under 1% in the first week of May, reported 1.11% on Monday. Tamil Nadu’s death ratio of 1.15% is almost equal to the national average. “We have not accounted for underreporting, happening the world over. So deaths are higher than official figures.”