WHO revises excess Covid deaths to 15 million for 2020-2021


Image: Microscopic view of a virus. Credit: US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

New estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million.

The WHO released the revised figures on Thursday, May 5.

“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 Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Excess mortality is 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 includes deaths associated with COVID-19 directly (due to the disease) or indirectly (due to the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society).

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.

Most of the excess deaths (84 per cent) are concentrated in South-East Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Some 68 per cent of excess deaths are concentrated in just 10 countries globally.

Middle-income countries account 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 4 per cent, respectively.

The estimates for the 24-month period (2020-2021) include a breakdown of excess mortality by age and sex.

They confirm that the global death toll was higher for men than for women (57 per cent male, 43 per cent female) and higher among older adults.

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Written by

Fergal MacErlean

Originally from Dublin, Fergal is based on the eastern Costa del Sol and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.