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The number (14.9 million deaths, with a margin of between 13.3 and 16.6 million) is much higher than what appears in the official data for the period: 5.4 million deaths due to Covid between January 2020 and December last year.
In other words, the estimate of the so-called “excess mortality” (number of deaths above the historical average) indicates that the pandemic had an impact three times greater than what appears in the sum of the official balance sheets released by the countries.
The WHO’s projection goes in the same direction as a study published in March in the journal “The Lancet”, which also points out that the pandemic has killed three times more people than what official records consider.
“These worrying 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,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The WHO declared the coronavirus pandemic on March 11, 2020. Since then, Brazil has recorded more than 663,000 deaths from Covid-19 and more than 30 million confirmed cases.
Excess deaths: understand the concept
The new WHO estimates show the deaths associated directly or indirectly with the Covid-19 pandemic. “The number of deaths, or excess mortality, includes deaths associated directly with Covid-19, due to the disease, or indirectly, due to the impact of the pandemic on health systems and society”, explains the WHO.
The number of “higher than expected deaths” – called excess mortality or excess deaths – includes only victims of disease (natural causes) and does not consider deaths caused by accidents or firearms, for example.
In periods of a pandemic, there is a sudden increase both due to the direct impact of the new disease and the indirect impact, due to lack of medical care due to overcrowding of hospitals or the delay in seeking the doctor. The “excess” also captures underreporting, that is, cases of deaths caused by Covid that were not attested due to lack of exams or other forms of diagnosis.
Below, understand the concepts used by epidemiologists:
- excess mortality: measures the impact of the evolution of diseases in a population and the effectiveness of the country’s health system in helping these patients.
- excess calculation: the registered (or expected) deaths from natural causes are subtracted between the analyzed year and the previous historical series.
- Deaths from natural causes: are those caused by any disease, from a heart attack, cancer to Covid-19. For example, deaths from accidents, domestic violence or firearms are excluded.
- Why the rise in the pandemic?: It was caused both by the direct impact of the new disease and by the indirect impact, due to lack of medical care due to overcrowding of hospitals or the delay in seeking the doctor.
Twenty countries, representing approximately 50% of the global population, account for more than 80% of the estimated global excess mortality for the period January 2020 to December 2021.
These countries are Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, South Africa, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland. North, Turkey, Ukraine and United States of America (USA).
According to the WHO, 84% of deaths are concentrated in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas, with 68% of them in just 10 countries worldwide.
Among genders, most deaths occurred among men, who account for 57% of victims.