LONDON (AP) – The World Health Organization estimates that in the first two years of the pandemic, some 15 million people have died from either coronavirus or its impact on congested health systems, more than double the current official death toll. 6 million.
Most deaths have occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe and America, according to a WHO report released Thursday.
UN Health Agency Director-General Tedras Adhanom Gebreesus described the recently calculated figure as “sober”, saying it should encourage countries to invest more in their capabilities to quell future health emergencies.
The WHO has instructed scientists to determine the true number of deaths from COVID-19 between January 2020 and the end of last year. They estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either directly from the coronavirus or from factors that are somehow related to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who do not were able to seek treatment when hospitals were full of patients with COVID.
Based on this range, scientists totaled about 14.9 million.
The estimate was based on country reports and statistical modeling, but only about half of the countries provided information. The WHO has said it cannot yet parse the data to distinguish direct deaths from COVID-19 and those related to the effects of the pandemic, but the agency is planning a future project to study death certificates.
“It may seem like the practice of counting beans, but having these WHO numbers is very important for understanding how we should fight future pandemics and continue to respond to it,” said Dr. Albert Co., an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health. which was not related to the WHO study.
For example, Ko said, South Korea’s decision to invest in health care after a major MERS outbreak allowed it to avoid COVID-19 with a death rate per capita of about 20 from the United States.
Accurate counting of deaths from COVID-19 has been problematic throughout the pandemic, as reports of confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the damage caused by the virus, largely due to limited testing. Government figures reported by the WHO and a separate count conducted by Johns Hopkins University show that more than 6.2 million deaths from the virus have been reported to date.
Scientists from the Institute of Metrics and Health Assessment at the University of Washington have calculated for a recent study published in the Lancet that from January 2020 to December 2021, there were more than 18 million deaths from COVID.
A team led by Canadian researchers has estimated that there have been more than 3 million unaccounted for coronavirus deaths in India alone. According to a new WHO analysis, the death toll in India alone ranged from 3.3 million to 6.5 million.
In a statement after the publication of the WHO data, India challenged the methodology of the UN agency. India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare called the methods of analysis and data collection “questionable” and complained that new mortality estimates had been published “without a proper solution to India’s problems”.
Samira Asma, senior director of the WHO, acknowledged that the “figures are sometimes controversial” and that all estimates are only an approximate catastrophic effect of the virus.
“This has become very clear throughout the pandemic, there has been data missing,” Asma told reporters during a briefing on Thursday. “Basically, we were all caught unprepared.”
Co said the new WHO figures could also explain some of the mysterious mysteries of the pandemic, such as why Africa appears to have been one of the least affected by the virus, despite shaky health systems and low levels of vaccination.
“Was the death rate so low because we couldn’t calculate the death rate, or was it some other factor?” He asked, referring to the much higher death rates in the United States and Europe.
Dr Bharat Panhaniya, a health specialist at the British University of Exeter, said the world may never come close to measuring the true amount of COVID-19, especially in poor countries.
“If you have a mass outbreak, when people die on the streets due to lack of oxygen, bodies have been abandoned or people have had to be cremated quickly because of cultural beliefs, we end up never knowing how many people have died,” he explained. . .
Panhanya said that while the estimated death toll from COVID-19 is still fading compared to the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which experts estimated led to 100 million deaths, the fact that so many people died despite on the achievements of modern medicine, including vaccines, is shameful.
He also warned that the cost of COVID-19 could be much more harmful in the long run, given the growing burden of caring for people with long-term COVID.
“With the Spanish flu there was the flu and then there were some diseases (lung) that people suffered from, but that’s all,” he said. “There was no steady immunological condition that we are witnessing now with COVID.”
“We don’t know to what extent people with long-term COVID-19 will be cut off from life and if they will have recurrent infections that will cause them even more problems,” Panhania said.
Krutika Patti and Ashok Sharma of New Delhi contributed to this report.
Follow the coverage of the AP pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic