Decoding India's Low Covid-19 Case Fatality Rate

Minu Philip, Debraj Ray, S. Subramanian

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    India's case fatality rate (CFR) under Covid-19 is strikingly low, around 1.7% at the time of writing. The world average rate is far higher. Several observers have noted that this difference is at least partly due to India's younger age distribution. We use age-specific fatality rates from 17 comparison countries, coupled with India's distribution of Covid-19 cases, to “predict” India's CFR. In most cases, those predictions yield even lower numbers, suggesting that India's CFR is, if anything, too high rather than too low. We supplement the analysis with a decomposition exercise, and we additionally account for time lags between case incidence and death for a more relevant perspective under a growing pandemic. Our exercise underscores the importance of careful measurement and interpretation of the data, and emphasises the dangers of a misplaced complacency that could arise from an exclusive concern with aggregate statistics such as the CFR.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)27-51
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2021


    • Age-specific mortality
    • Case fatality rate
    • Covid-19
    • Cross-country comparisons
    • Demographics
    • Public health

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Development


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