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India's official death toll tops 200,000. Experts say the actual number is much higher.

India's COVID-19 death toll surged past 200,000 on Wednesday, as the country set another daily global cases record of 360,960 new infections in one day.

Of note: Medical experts and members of India's opposition parties say the actual death toll and case count are much higher, a charge Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party denies.

Driving the news: As hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients amid a widespread oxygen shortage and sluggish vaccine rollout, a New York Times investigation published Tuesday found "mounting evidence" suggesting fatalities are being "overlooked or downplayed."

  • Local medical workers told the NYT officials were worried about creating a "panic."
  • University of Michigan epidemiologist Bhramar Mukherjee, who's been following the pandemic in India closely, told the Times "From all the modeling we've done, we believe the true number of deaths is two to five times what is being reported."

What they're saying: Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi, told CNN Tuesday, "It's widely known that both the case numbers and the mortality figures are undercounts, they always have been.

"Last year we estimated that only one in about 30 infections were being caught by testing, so the reported cases are a serious underestimate of true infections. This time, the mortality figures are probably serious underestimates, and what we're seeing on the ground is many more deaths, than what has been officially reported."

Go deeper: U.S. to send India supplies as country faces record COVID surge

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