New data released by the office of the Registrar General on May 3 showed that India registered 81.16 lakh deaths in the first pandemic year 2020. The figure is about six per cent higher than the previous year’s number, which is consistent with the recent trend of increasing registrations of births and deaths in the country.
Data from the Civil Registration System (CRS) showed that, while the number of registered births in 2020 declined to 2.42 crore from 2.48 crore in 2019, the death registrations jumped from 76.41 lakh in 2019 to 81.16 lakh.
These numbers are not the actual number of births and deaths in India in 2020, but only those that got registered.
Registration of births and deaths have seen steady rise in recent years. In particular, the registration of deaths saw a sharp jump in the last three years. In 2019, 92 per of all deaths were registered, a significant rise from 79 per cent registrations done in 2017. Almost 95 per cent of all births in the country are now registered.
According to official figures, about 1.49 lakh people had died due to Covid-19 in 2020. As of now, over 5.23 lakh people are known to have died because of deadly virus. The new CRS data do not say anything about Covid-19 deaths.
NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said, the CRS data was an indication that the actual number of Covid-19 deaths in the country in 2020 was probably not vastly different from the official toll.
“The figures also do not attribute the cause of death, but of course the 4.74 lakh excess (registered) deaths (compared to the previous year) will include Covid-19 deaths as well. There may be some more deaths due to Covid-19 as compared to the reported numbers but now we have the actual count of deaths from 2020. This is the total envelop within which you are talking of excess mortality and, therefore, the Covid-19 toll cannot be in some exorbitant multiple,” he added.
In India, the real number of births and deaths is estimated through Sample Registration System (SRS). In 2019, 83.01 lakh people were estimated to have died in India, of which 76.41 lakh deaths, or 92 per cent, got registered in the CRS. The SRS data for 2020 is still not available due to which the percentage of registration in 2020 is not known.