Prashnam Survey on Covid Deaths quoted in The Economist

On June 2, I had written a column in ThePrint based on a Prashnam survey about the number of deaths due to Covid. The latest Economist (June 12 edition) has written about it as part of their story on estimating the Covid deaths in India. The story is headlined “More evidence emerges of India’s true death toll from covid-19” with the stub “New surveys corroborate earlier estimates that the number is some six times higher.”

Evidence from another source, opinion surveys, corroborates the higher numbers. One, conducted in May by Prashnam, a new polling group, asked 15,000 people, across mostly rural areas in Hindi-speaking states in the north, whether anyone in their family or neighbourhood had died of covid-19. One in every six, or 17%, said yes.

Rajesh Jain, Prashnam’s founder, then compared this result with surveys in America that had asked a similar question, including one conducted in March by the University of Chicago, which found that 19% of respondents had a close friend or relative who had died in the pandemic. Given the closeness of those results, Mr Jain says that India’s overall covid-19 mortality rate is likely to be closer to America’s, at 1,800 deaths per million people, than to its official figure of 230 per million. If India’s rate does match America’s, the number of deaths in India so far would be about 2.5m, he says.

PS: The same survey was also linked from an article in The New York Times.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.