At least 6-8 million people may have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic so far versus the World Health Organization’s official toll of around 3.4 million, a WHO official said on Friday, May 21.

So far, more than 3.4 million deaths worldwide have officially been attributed to Covid-19 since the disease first surfaced in China in late 2019.

But according to a global health statistics report from the WHO, far more people have died who would otherwise not have died had it not been for the pandemic, either due to Covid or because they could not get treatment for other ailments.

“Total deaths are at least two to three times higher than officially reported,” Samira Asma, the WHO assistant director-general in charge of data, told reporters.

It still remains unclear how many of the excess deaths counted last year could be directly attributable to Covid-19, he said, adding that the WHO was working to determine the best methods for identifying missed Covid deaths.

In 2020, the report found there had been at least three million excess deaths due directly or indirectly to Covid-19, while the official number of Covid deaths was 1.8 million at the end of the year.

At a regional level, excess mortality estimates for the Americas stood at up to 1.46 million, and as much as 1.21 million in the European region in 2020, representing 60 and 50 percent more than the reported Covid deaths there, the report

Meanwhile, asked how many excess deaths could be attributed to the pandemic up to today globally, Asma said that “I think safely, about six to eight million deaths could be an estimate.”

Asma called for countries to invest in scaling up their data and information systems, insisting: “We can only be better prepared with better data.”

The WHO is working with countries “to understand the true human toll of the pandemic so we can be better prepared for the next emergency,” she said.



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