Covid death toll likely to be twice official total at 15m
Almost 15 million people worldwide have died as a result of the Covid pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated – a figure more than double the official death toll. The figure is based on the concept of excess mortality – the number of deaths that occurred beyond those expected without the pandemic – and encompasses those who died as a result of Covid and those who died indirectly because of the pandemic. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, described the figures as “sobering”, while Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said that too often during the course of the pandemic, world leaders “have failed to act at the level needed to save lives”. The WHO figures suggest that from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021 there were between 13.3 and 16.6 million excess deaths, with the majority – 84% – occurring in south-east Asia, Europe and the Americas. The WHO notes that many Covid deaths will have been missed due to factors including a lack of testing and variations in death certification rules.