Nearly 15 million deaths are directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 |

This figure represents 9.5 million more deaths than reported so far, which is directly related to COVID-19.

Excess deaths are calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would have been expected in the absence of a pandemic, the UN agency explained.

“Sobering Data”

It includes people who died from coronavirus illnesses, or those who died indirectly from the impact of the pandemic on health systems and the communities in which they live, such as people with other illnesses who could not access life-saving care.

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

The data covers the period from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021, with an estimated excess mortality range of 13.3 million to 16.6 million.

A more objective picture

According to the WHO, the number of excess deaths per 100,000 people provides a more objective picture of the pandemic than reported deaths from COVID-19.

Most of the excess deaths, 84 percent, were concentrated in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas, and almost 70 percent in just 10 countries.

Middle-income countries account for 81 percent of the 14.9 million excess deaths, while high- and low-income countries account for 15 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Estimates also showed that the global death toll is higher among men than women – 57 percent compared to 43 percent – and higher among older people.

Understanding Impact

Dr Samira Asma, WHO Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery, said measuring excess mortality is an important component to understanding the impact of the pandemic.

“Changes in mortality trends provide decision makers with information to develop policies to reduce mortality and effectively prevent future crises. Due to limited investment in data systems in many countries, the true extent of excess mortality often remains hidden,” she said.

Collaboration and innovation

The preparation of the estimates is the result of a global collaboration supported by the work of the Technical Advisory Group on Estimating COVID-19 Mortality and consultations with countries.

The Expert Group is convened jointly by WHO and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

“The United Nations system is working together to provide an authoritative estimate of the global number of lives lost as a result of the pandemic. This work is an important part of UNDESA’s ongoing collaboration with WHO and other partners to improve global mortality estimates,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

The group has developed an innovative methodology to obtain comparable mortality estimates even when data are incomplete or unavailable.

The methods are based on a statistical model generated using information from countries with adequate data, and this model is used to generate estimates for countries with little or no data.

The methodology has proved invaluable, according to the WHO, as many countries still lack the capacity for robust mortality surveillance. Therefore, they do not collect or generate the data needed to calculate excess mortality.

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