Nearly 15 million deaths related to COVID-19: WHO

(London) – The World Health Organization estimates nearly 15 million people have died from the coronavirus or its impact on an overwhelmed health system in the past two years, more than double the main death toll. consciousness is 6 million people. Most of the deaths have been in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas.

In a report on Thursday, the head of the United Nations agency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the figure as “serious”, saying it would spur countries to invest more in their capacity to stamp out turn off future medical emergencies.

Scientists tasked by WHO tasked with calculating the actual number of COVID-19 deaths from January 2020 to the end of last year estimated between 13.3 million and 16.6 million direct coronavirus deaths. caused or in any way attributed to the impact of the pandemic on the health system, just as people with cancer cannot seek treatment when hospitals are full of COVID patients.

The figures are based on reported data by country and statistical model, but only about half of the countries provide information. The WHO says it has yet to break down the figures to distinguish between deaths directly from COVID-19 and other deaths caused by the pandemic, but said a future project examines the paper. The mortuary will probe this.

“It may seem like a pea-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is crucial to understanding how we should fight it,” said Albert Ko, an infectious disease expert at Yale School. future pandemics and continue to respond to this pandemic. Public health is not related to the WHO study.

For example, Ko said, South Korea’s decision to invest heavily in public health after the country was hit by a severe MERS outbreak has allowed the country to escape COVID-19 with a per capita mortality rate. American about 20 people.

Read more: The US is in a ‘Pandemic Under Control’ Phase of COVID-19. But what does that mean?

The exact number of deaths caused by COVID-19 has been a dilemma throughout the pandemic, as these numbers represent only a small fraction of the devastation caused by the virus, much of it. due to limited testing and differences in how countries count COVID-19 deaths. According to government figures reported to WHO and according to a separate statistic kept by Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 6,000,000 won has reported coronavirus deaths to date.

Scientists at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predicted more than 18 million COVID-19 deaths between January 2020 and December 2021 in a recent study published in the journal The Lancet and a team led by Canadian researchers estimate there are more than 3 million unaccounted for coronavirus deaths in India alone. New WHO analysis estimates there are more than 4 million missed deaths in India, ranging from 3.3 million to 6.5 million.

Some countries, including India, have opposed the WHO method of calculating COVID deaths, against the idea that there are more deaths than official statistics.

Earlier this week, the Indian government released new figures showing 474,806 more deaths in 2020 than the year before, but did not say how many were linked to the pandemic. India has not released any mortality estimates for 2021, when delta variant swept across the country, killing thousands.

Ko said better figures from the WHO could also explain some lingering mysteries about the pandemic, like why Africa appear to be among the least affected by the virus, despite low vaccination rates.

“Is the mortality rate so low because we can’t count the number of deaths or is there some other factor to explain it?” He said, adding that the death toll in rich nations like the UK and US has demonstrated that resources alone are not enough to contain a global outbreak.

Dr Bharat Pankhania, a public health expert at Britain’s University of Exeter, said the world may never get close to the true number of COVID-19, especially in poor countries.

“When you have a major outbreak where people die in the streets from lack of oxygen, bodies are abandoned or people have to quick cremation Because of cultural beliefs, we end up never knowing how many people died,” he explained.

Although Pankhania says the estimated death toll from COVID-19 is still lower than during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 – when experts estimated 100 million deaths – he said the reality was that so many people died. died despite the advances of modern medicine, including vaccines, it’s a shame.

He also warned that the costs of COVID-19 could be much more damaging in the long term, given the growing care burden of those with Long COVID.

“With the Spanish flu, there’s the flu and then some (lung) diseases that people suffer, but that’s all,” he said. “There is no long-term immunity that we are seeing with COVID.”

“We don’t know the extent to which people with Long COVID will have their lives cut short and if they will have repeated infections that will cause them even more problems,” Pankhania said. .

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