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14.9 Million Deaths Linked To COVID-19 Pandemic In Two Years – Report

In this file photo taken on January 29, 2021, the body of a patient who died of coronavirus (Covid-19) is wrapped in a white bag like all Covid-19 victims in the mortuary room in Paris. JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

An average of 14.9 million deaths have been linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, new estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have shown.

These deaths (between the range of 13.3 million to 16.6 million), described as excess mortality and recorded between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021, were associated directly or indirectly with the pandemic.

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”

In a statement on Thursday, the global health agency explained that excess mortality was calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years.

Excess mortality, it stated, included deaths associated with COVID-19 directly – due to the disease – or indirectly – due to the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society.

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A file photo of World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
A file photo of World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

 

Averted Deaths

According to WHO, deaths linked indirectly to COVID-19 are attributable to other health conditions for which people were unable to access prevention and treatment because health systems were overburdened by the pandemic.

It added that the estimated number of excess deaths could be influenced also by deaths averted during the pandemic due to lower risks of certain events such as auto crashes or occupational injuries.

The agency revealed that the majority of the excess deaths (84 per cent) were concentrated in South-East Asia, Europe, and the Americas while some 68 per cent of them were recorded in just 10 countries globally.

Middle-income countries also accounted for 81 per cent of the 14.9 million excess deaths – 53 per cent in lower-middle-income countries and 28 per cent in upper-middle-income countries – over the 24-month period, with high-income and low-income countries each accounting for 15 per cent and four per cent respectively.

“Measurement of excess mortality is an essential component to understand the impact of the pandemic,” said Dr Samira Asma who is an Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics, and Delivery at WHO. “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. These new estimates use the best available data and have been produced using a robust methodology and a completely transparent approach.”

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