Over 7m Covid-19 deaths recorded, Latest World News - The New Paper

Over 7m Covid-19 deaths recorded

There have been over seven million recorded fatalities due to Covid-19, from the beginning of the pandemic until the end of 2023, according to official data, but the actual death toll from the disease may be closer to 21 million, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. 

And while the coronavirus may no longer be of concern to most people, there are those who continue to suffer silently from long-term impacts.

The WHO is in the process of conducting an analysis of excess deaths during the pandemic, as well as after the disease ceased to be a global health emergency.

Excess deaths are calculated based on the difference between observed deaths in a specific time frame and the expected number of deaths for that same period.

“We are working to estimate what this is. We have estimates up to the end of 2021, and these are being revised to look at excess deaths for 2022 – and will be done for 2023 as well,” said WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead and director ad interim for Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, at a virtual press conference on Jan 12. “We expect that the actual true number is at least three times higher.”

At the height of the pandemic, countries such as India and China were accused of falsifying Covid-19 data, ostensibly to maintain their international reputations.

Reports of overflowing mortuaries and, in the case of India, bodies being burnt in hospital car parking lots and on the banks of the River Ganges raised doubts about the true toll.  

The actual number of infections caused by the virus is also subject to speculation. On paper, at least, the world has seen over 712 million cases of Covid-19 since the first outbreak in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019. 

The WHO began keeping records of Covid-19 cases and fatalities from January 2020.

But Dr Van Kerkhove said the reported numbers were likely just the tip of the iceberg. 

“Case-based data, as reported to WHO, is not a reliable indicator. It has not been a reliable indicator for a couple of years now. And so if you look at the epi curve, it looks like the virus is gone, and it’s not,” she said.

The epi curve – or epidemic curve – is a bar chart that shows the distribution of cases over time.

“According to wastewater estimates that we have from a number of countries, the actual circulation of Sars-CoV-2 is anywhere between two and 19 times higher than what is being reported,” Dr Van Kerkhove added. 

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