The Indian government on Thursday, rejected recent studies suggesting that millions of people have died in the country from Covid-19, several times the official toll of almost 420,000.

In a statement released by the Indian government, several Indian states were now “reconciling” their data after dealing with a spike in cases during April and May.

On Tuesday a study by US research group the Center for Global Development suggested anywhere from 3.4 million to 4.7 million people had died in India, between eight and 11 times the official number.

The study is the latest to cast doubt on India’s official numbers, pointing to poor record-keeping and the death rate per million being around half the global average.

Researchers have looked in particular at “excess mortality”, the number of additional fatalities compared with normal times, and at death rates in other countries.

But the Indian government said Thursday it was an “audacious assumption that the likelihood of any given infected person dying is the same across countries”.

States overwhelmed by the surge in April and May have now been “advised to conduct thorough audits that could have been missed”, and several have in recent weeks updated their figures, it said.

Maharashtra, India’s worst-hit state has upped its death toll by around 15,000 while Bihar added about 4,000 and Madhya Pradesh 1,500.

Net/Babatunde Tiamiyu

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