The World Health Organization reported on Thursday that approximately 14.9 million people globally died as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19 between January 2020 and December 2021, nearly three times more than they estimated.
According to the WHO analysis, the estimated range of excess deaths was 13.3 million to 16.6 million, or approximately 14.9 million over 24 months.
The WHO added that excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of fatalities that occurred and the number that would be predicted in the absence of the pandemic based on data from previous years.
Samira Asma, assistant director-general for the Data, Analytics, and Delivery for Impact Division of WHO, said that measuring excess mortality is a critical component of understanding the impact of the pandemic.
“Measurement shifts in mortality trends provide decision-makers information to guide policies to reduce mortality and effectively prevent future crises. Because of limited investments in data systems in many countries, the true extent of excess mortality often remains hidden,” Asma said.
The WHO report stated that most of the excess deaths (84%) are in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the American continents, adding that 68% of the excess deaths were in 10 countries listed alphabetically: Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States.
WHO said that the production of the death toll estimates was supported by the Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19 Mortality Assessment and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
“The United Nations system is working together to deliver an authoritative assessment of the global toll of lives lost from the pandemic. This work is an important part of UN DESA’s ongoing collaboration with WHO and other partners to improve global mortality estimates,” said Mr. Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
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