NEW DELHI: COVID-19 has claimed the lives of at least 99 doctors in the country so far, a majority of whom were general practitioners, the first documentation of the infection's impact on the country's medical professionals by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has revealed.
As of now 1302 doctors have been found to be infected, a report by the country's largest body of private doctors further discovered.
Based on these figures, the case fatality rate (CFR) due to COVID-19 for doctors turns out to be 7.6 per cent -- nearly 2.5 times the national CFR of 2.6 per cent.
The number of actual COVID-19 related deaths among doctors could be much higher though -- nearly three times -- as the data compiled by the association only includes its 3.25 lakh members of whom only 10 per cent are in government hospitals.
There are nearly 11 lakh registered doctors in India.
"We are estimating that as many as three times this number of doctors may have died in the country so far due to the disease as most of the doctors in the government hospitals, where majority of COVID-19 patients are being treated, are not with IMA and we do not have their records," said Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, a senior member of the association.
He added that a high number of Ayush practitioners have also died after contracting the infection.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare so far has not released any data on infection prevalence and deaths among doctors and other healthcare workers but a lab surveillance report published by the Indian Council of Medical Research had shown that of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in India till April 30, more than 5 per cent were healthcare workers.
The latest IMA data shows that nearly 50 of those dead were general practitioners, followed by more than 40 specialists and some residents as well.
Also, 73 doctors who succumbed to the contagion were above 50 years of age, 19 were 35-50 while seven were under 35.
The fatality rate among doctors due to the disease has to be found to be higher worldwide due to the high viral load they are exposed to in hospital setups.
Declaring a "Red Alert" IMA said COVID deaths amongst doctors is of great concern and asked them and medical administration to raise their guards.
Doctors need to take charge of the situation and ensure their own safety and that of their families, colleagues and staff, it said.
"Working hours should be tempered by concerns of safety. Providing for PPEs, triaging, physical distancing and sanitisers should be monitored on a daily basis. Operation theaters, labour rooms, Laboratories and casualties require special care," the association said, adding that ICUs and Critical Care units deserve close scrutiny for adherence to best practices and protocols.
Analysis of data shows that while senior doctors and young doctors were equally infected with COVID, the mortality is higher with elders, the association said, adding that while this is along expected lines, there is scope for lessening deaths across the age spectrum if safety protocols are meticulously followed.