(ORDO NEWS) — According to an analysis published in The Lancet, three times more people could die due to the coronavirus pandemic in the world than official sources indicate.
These striking differences between model predictions and official data are likely the result of underdiagnosis due to lack of testing and problems reporting complete patient death data.
According to official statistics, from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021, 5.94 million people died from Covid-19 worldwide. However, according to the authors of the new study , based on their statistical model, over this period, excess mortality was three times higher and amounted to 18.2 million people.
Excess mortality refers to the difference between the total number of registered deaths from all causes in a given period and the expected number of deaths in the same time period, based on past statistics. This is a key metric for estimating the true death toll from the pandemic.
Although experts have made several attempts to estimate excess deaths from coronavirus in the past, most of them were limited in geographical coverage due to the lack of data on mortality in many countries.
The new study presents the first estimates of global excess deaths from Covid-19, as well as selected figures for 191 countries and territories in 2020 and 2021. Estimates are based on a statistical model built from weekly or monthly reports of all-cause deaths since 2009 in 74 countries, 266 states and provinces.
The authors of the work collected information from government websites, the World Mortality Database, the Human Mortality Database and the European Statistical Office. They made it possible to estimate excess mortality due to the pandemic, including for places where weekly or monthly mortality reports are not available.
Stacked bar chart of regional distribution of excess mortality associated with the Covid-19 pandemic for 2020-2021
According to the results, the global general return rate of excess mortality was about 120 deaths per 100,000 population.
The highest calculated rates of excess mortality are in Latin America (512 deaths per 100 thousand), Eastern Europe (345 deaths per 100 thousand people), Central Europe (316 deaths per 100 thousand), southern Africa (309 deaths per 100 thousand).
If we go down to the level of individual countries, then the “leaders” in the number of estimated excess deaths were India (4.1 million), USA (1.1 million), Mexico (798 thousand), Brazil (792 thousand), Indonesia (736 thousand) and Pakistan (664 thousand).
These seven countries, according to the results of the work, accounted for more than half of all excess deaths caused by the pandemic in two years.
Global distribution of the ratio between estimated Covid-19 pandemic excess mortality rate and reported COVID-19 mortality rate for 2020-2021
Among the above countries, the highest rates of excess mortality were recorded in Mexico (325 deaths per 100 thousand), as well as in Brazil (187 deaths per 100 thousand) and the United States (179 deaths per 100 thousand).
At the same time, in some states, even fewer deaths were recorded than expected, based on mortality statistics from previous years. Among them are Iceland (a decrease of 48 deaths per 100,000 people), Australia (a decrease of 38 deaths per 100,000) and Singapore (a decrease of 16 deaths per 100,000).
“Understanding the true death toll due to the pandemic is vital to effective public health decision making. Studies from several countries, including Sweden and the Netherlands, show that Covid-19 was the direct cause of most of the excess deaths, but we currently lack evidence for most countries.
Further research will help identify how many deaths were caused directly by coronavirus infection, and how many were caused by the indirect impact of the pandemic, ”explained lead author Dr. Haidong Wang from the Institute of Medical Metrics and Evaluation (USA).
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