Table 1

Input data sources and their characteristics which recorded deaths during COVID-19 pandemic in India

Input data sourceDescriptionPopulations coveredData periodPotential data biases
Civil Registration SystemData obtained from state CRS department websites/provided through public information requestsAndhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West BengalMonthly data from January 2018 till May 2021 (except) Gujarat—March–May 2021
  • Website data lower than deaths published in annual CRS reports for 2018–2020 in all states

  • For 2021, not specified if monthly data are based on date of death or date of registration

News articles/blogsData from multiple sources local hospitals, cremation grounds, municipal corporations, local CRS officesAhmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, NagpurWeekly, monthly and quarterly data from January 2018 till May 2021 (varying periods across cities)
  • City death data based on place of occurrence hence includes non-residents

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Annual HMIS reportsHMIS 2020–2021 and 2021–2022—analytical reportAll reporting hospitals2018–2019, 2020–2021 and 2021–2022
  • Increase in reported deaths could potentially be due to improved institutional reporting compliance with government pandemic surveillance orders

C Voter Tracker SurveyTelephonic household survey on COVID-19 deaths from 1 July 2021 to 15 September 2021Pan India
Covered 15 700 households and 57 000 individuals
No of deaths reported=2107
Jan 2019–June 2021
  • Very small sample size—not representative of Indian population

  • Information bias—no evidence how much valid data was collected telephonically

Consumer Pyramid Household Survey (CPHS)Household surveyPan India covered 0.87 million individuals in 0.18 million households
No. of deaths reported=8694
2015–2018, 2019–June 2021
  • Insufficient sample size

  • Type of questions asked for capturing mortality is uncertain

Railway employeesRailways data on number of COVID-19 deathsPan India except mountainous areas
1.3 million employees
No of deaths reported=1952
March 2020–7 May 2021
  • Small sample of 1952 deaths

  • Population characteristics and availability of medical facilities not representative for general population

  • CRS, Civil Registration System; HMIS, Health Management Information System.