The World Health Organization estimates that about 15 million people died in the past two years either from the coronavirus or its impact on overwhelming health systems, more than double the official death toll of six million. Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe and America.
In a report released on Thursday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the figure as “thinking”, saying it should prompt countries to invest more in their capabilities to mitigate future health emergencies. needed.
Scientists tasked with calculating the actual number of COVID-19 deaths between January 2020 and the end of last year estimated that there were between 13.3 million and 16.6 million deaths that were either directly caused by the coronavirus or any other cause. Kind was responsible for the effects of the pandemic. Health systems, such as those with cancer, are unable to seek treatment when hospitals are filled with patients with the virus.
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The figures are based on country-reported data and statistical modeling.
Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Medicine, said: “It may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but understanding these WHO numbers is so important to how we should combat and respond to future pandemics.” must continue.” Public health that was not linked to WHO research.
For example, Ko said, South Korea’s decision to invest heavily in public health after experiencing a severe outbreak of MERS has put it with a per capita death rate of 1/20th that of the US from COVID-19. allowed to escape.
Middle-income countries struggle to report: WHO
About a third of the additional total was estimated to be 4.7 million in India. The country, which was hit by a devastating wave of delta varsity in 2021, said its COVID-19 deaths at the end of that year stood at 481,080 people.
India’s case numbers match a general trend in the data, with a 68 percent higher death rate concentrated in 10 highly populated, middle-income countries, a list that includes Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia and Mexico.
Countries in Europe and North America where modeling shows the official death toll are low include the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Poland and Ukraine.
Other countries that rank high in modeling excess deaths include Brazil, Colombia, Iran, the Philippines, Peru, Russia, and South Africa.
WHO officials noted a significant disparity by gender, with men accounting for 57 percent of the estimated deaths, while older adults were disproportionately affected compared to the population’s share.
Canada more deaths across age groups in 2021
Statistics Canada previously estimated that by the end of 2020 the country had 16,333 more deaths than would otherwise be expected before the pandemic. Last month, the statistics agency projected 28,987 more deaths from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to the end of November 2021.
The WHO data doesn’t deviate too much from those figures, but provide context on the evolution of the virus over time. In 2020, 57.3 percent more deaths were projected to occur in those 80 and over, although the 25-39 demographic saw almost 11 percent more deaths than would have been expected in the absence of a pandemic. About 70 percent of the more deaths were of men.
But in 2021, when vaccination was readily available, the dramatic age slant is not seen. The 70-79, 60-69 and 25-39 groups all saw more than 20 percent more deaths than expected, while those between 40 and 59 were estimated to have about 15 percent more deaths.
The Canadian Medical Association and others have indicated that postponed surgeries, delayed emergency room visits and a supply of a toxic street drug during the pandemic have contributed to more deaths.
The exact number of COVID-19 deaths has been problematic throughout the pandemic, as these figures represent only a fraction of the devastation caused by the virus, largely due to limited testing and differences in the count of COVID-19 deaths across countries. So far, more than six million coronavirus deaths have been reported, according to government figures reported to the WHO and a separate count kept by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Dozens of countries do not document causes of death
Also, WHO officials said on Thursday, about 70 countries do not routinely produce death certificates, what Dr Stephen McFeely, WHO’s director of data and analytics, called “shocking”.
Scientists at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimated that there were more than 18 million COVID-19 deaths from January 2020 to December 2021 in a recent study published in the journal Lancet, and a team led by Canadian researchers estimated Put it. India alone had over three million uncounted coronavirus deaths.
Some countries, including India, have disputed the WHO’s methodology for counting COVID-19 deaths, opposing the idea that there were many more deaths than were officially counted. Earlier this week, the Indian government released new figures showing 474,806 more deaths in 2020 than the previous year, but did not say how many were tied to the pandemic. India did not release any death estimates for 2021.
Yale’s Ko said even better WHO data could explain some lingering mysteries about the pandemic, such as why Africa appears to be the least affected by the virus, despite low vaccination rates. “Was the death rate so low because we couldn’t count the deaths or was there some other factor to explain it?” They said.
Dr Bharat Pankhania, a public health expert at the University of Exeter, UK, said that we can never get close to the true toll of COVID-19, especially in poor countries.
“When you have a large-scale outbreak where people are dying on the streets because of lack of oxygen, bodies were abandoned or people had to be cremated quickly because of cultural beliefs, we never know in the end. That’s how many people died,” he said.
Pankhania warned that given the growing burden of COVID-19 in the long run, the cost of COVID-19 could be far more damaging in the long term.
“We don’t know to what extent people with long-term COVID will have a shorter life span and if they have recurrent infections that will cause them even more problems.”