The global death toll from COVID could be 3 times the official figures

FRIDAY, March 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — If you think the reported global death toll from the pandemic is already too high, new research suggests the number of additional deaths may be three times that of official estimates.

The official death toll from COVID-19 between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 was 5.9 million. However, the new analysis estimates that more than three times the number of additional deaths — 18.2 million — may have occurred during the same period.

Excess deaths are the difference between the number of recorded deaths from all causes and the number expected based on past trends, and they are an important measure of the true death toll from the pandemic.

By region, South Asia had the highest number of additional deaths (5.3 million), followed by North Africa and the Middle East (1.7 million) and Eastern Europe (1.4 million), according to the report.

By country, the highest number of additional deaths occurred in India (4.1 million), the United States (1.1 million), Russia (1.1 million), Mexico (798,000), Brazil (792,000), Indonesia (736,000) and Pakistan (664,000). These seven countries were responsible for more than half of the global additional deaths during the 24-month study period.

The additional death rate was 120 deaths per 100,000 population worldwide, but 21 countries had more than 300 additional deaths per 100,000 population, the findings showed.

The highest rates were in Andean Latin America (512 deaths per 100,000 population), Eastern Europe (345 deaths per 100,000), Central Europe (316 deaths per 100,000), and southern sub-Saharan Africa (309 deaths per 100,000).

Several locations outside of these regions had similarly high rates, including Lebanon, Armenia, Tunisia, Libya, several regions in Italy, and several states in the southern United States.

The findings of the first peer-reviewed estimates of additional deaths during the pandemic were published March 10 in The Lancet.

The wide spread between excess deaths and official data may be the result of underdiagnosis of COVID-19 due to a lack of testing and difficulties reporting death data, the researchers noted.

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