Up to eight million people may have died as a result of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization, which said on Friday that official death tolls are likely to be a ‘significant undercount’.
Presenting its annual World Health Statistics report, the WHO estimated that total deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 were at least 3 million or 1.2 million more than the 1.8 million figure officially reported.
‘We are likely facing a significant undercount of total deaths directly and indirectly attributed to COVID-19,’ the U.N. agency said.
By May 20 2021, WHO statistics showed around 3.4 million people had died globally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, although the real figure could be much higher, the WHO said.
With the rising death toll in Latin America and in Asia as new variants spread, the death toll ‘would truly be two to three times higher,’ said Samira Asma, WHO’s Assistant Director-General in its data and analytics division.
‘So I think safely about 6 to 8 million deaths could be an estimate on a cautionary note,’ Asma told a virtual press briefing.
Asma said the WHO was working with countries ‘to understand the true human toll of the pandemic so we can be better prepared for the next emergency’.
The WHO cited the lack of reliable systems to log deaths in many countries, while in many cases people had died from COVID-19 before they had been tested for the virus.
WHO data analyst William Msemburi said the raised estimates included both unreported COVID-19 deaths as well as indirect deaths such as patients not seeking healthcare for other conditions due to the lack of hospital capacity and restrictions on movements, among other factors.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail