More than a thousand physicians die of COVID-19 in India

Fifty of these died in a single day on Sunday 18 May. In India, the second wave has been ongoing since early April.

Anas Mujahid, 26, was a junior resident physician at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in Delhi.

According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), he is the youngest of the 244 Indian physicians1 who have lost their lives to COVID-19 this year. Fifty of them died in a single day on Sunday 18 May. In India, the second wave has been ongoing since early April.

The highest number of physician deaths has been reported in the densely populated state of Bihar (population about 140 million) in northeast India, bordering Bangladesh and Nepal. The neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh is the second most affected.

In 2020, 736 Indian physicians lost their lives in the first wave. According to the IMA, almost 1,000 Indian physicians have already died from COVID-19. This figure is most likely an underestimate as the IMA only counts 350,000 members out of the more than 1,200,000 physicians in India.

Anas Mujahid died of a brain haemorrhage just hours after testing positive. He had minor symptoms at the time. Although he had no comorbidities, the progression of COVID-19 was rapid. Dr. Mujahid had planned to be vaccinated in the next few days, but had not yet had the opportunity.

One of his friends, Dr. Aamir Sohail, explains2: "He had not been vaccinated. Many colleagues here, including me, have not been vaccinated. The procedure for getting vaccinated while on a COVID mission is long. We have to inform our superiors and get their signatures, etc." He too was infected last month, but had only moderate symptoms. According to the IMA, only 10% of Indian physicians have received a first dose and only 3% are fully vaccinated.

India, a country of 1.3 billion people, has just passed the 300,000 death mark for COVID-19, including 50,000 in less than two weeks. The actual death toll is likely to be much higher because the epidemic is spreading to rural areas, where there are no hospitals. Projections3 from the University of Washington published in The Lancet4 estimate that one million people in India will have died from the pandemic by 1 August 2021.

1. The Hindu - "COVID-19 surge: Bihar, U.P., Delhi top list of deaths among doctors in second wave, says IMA" (17 May 2021)
2. NDTV - "50 Doctors Reported Dead In 1 Day From Covid Across India: Medical Body" (17 May 2021)
3. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation - COVID Projections (21 May 2021)
4. The Lancet - India's COVID-19 crisis: a call for international action Published: May 14, 2021 DOI: