Data check: Why death rate in India surged as second wave receded

There was a decrease in deaths in absolute numbers, but the actual death rate climbed, data show

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As the second wave of COVID-19 receded, death rate in the country surged, according to Ministry of Health data.

There was a decrease in deaths in absolute numbers, but the actual death rate climbed. Both cumulative as well as daily death rate rose, the data show.

The proportion of deaths due to COVID-19 has spiked after receding during the second wave in April and May. The total number of deaths in the country was 3.94 lakh as of June 26. However, almost half of the deaths (47.19 per cent, or 1.86 lakh) were reported in May and June – causing a steady spike in the death rate.


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Cumulative (since the beginning of the pandemic) data show that the death rate was 1.41 per cent on March 1, 2021, before the second wave hit. It kept reducing despite the huge surge in the number of cases. It was 1.09 per cent on May 6 and May 7 at the peak of the second wave – daily cases were more than 4 lakh.

Although the number of new cases began declining immediately, the death rate started up-trending. It reached 1.31 per cent on June 26, as per the official figures.

The daily death rate saw an unprecedented spike after the second wave began subsiding around mid-May.

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The rate was below 1 per cent until May 1. It crossed that mark the next day. As of June 26 the rate was 2.43 per cent. It had not come below 2 per cent for the preceding 29 days.

The peak of daily death rate was reported on June 10 when Bihar revised its death numbers. The state added 3,951 additional unreported deaths to its tally on that day. As a result, the daily death count for the day became 6,148, and the death rate shot up to 6.54 per cent, according to the data.

Both May and June saw more recoveries than new cases in the country. In May 92.84 lakh new cases were reported against 1.03 crore recoveries, while in June around 35 lakh recoveries were reported against 21.35 lakh new cases. These numbers show a clear decline in the spread of the virus.