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WHO says deaths from Covid-19 are more than those reported by governments

OMS dice que las muertes por Covid-19 son más de las notificadas por los gobiernos

The number of deaths attributed directly or indirectly to the covid-19 pandemic were underestimated, confirmed the World Health Organization (WHO), an entity that estimated that the total number of deaths actually rises to 14.9 million, compared to 6.2 million officially notified.

In a statement released yesterday, WHO experts estimate that 14.9 million deaths can be associated with the pandemic, which represents the midpoint between a minimum of 13.3 million and a maximum of 16.6 million deaths recorded from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

That total includes 6.2 million deaths from covid reported officially to WHO by its 194 member countries.

The rest corresponds to deaths caused by covid but that were not notified as such, as well as those caused by other diseases that could not be treated due to the overload suffered by health systems in the acute stage of the pandemic.

The organization has called this calculation "excess deaths"that is, the difference between the deaths that occurred in that two-year period and those expected without a pandemic.

This result has also been influenced by deaths that, from a certain point of view, "avoided" because the lockdowns reduced the risk of traffic and occupational accidents, experts explained at a press conference.

"We focus on excess deaths because we know that in many countries the data from the tests were insufficient. We also know that not all countries have a certification system (of deaths) that meets standard practices"said WHO statistics expert William Msemburi.

That is why, despite the fact that the mathematical models used by the organization are reliable, calculating how many deaths were due to unreported covid and how many were due to other untreated chronic ailments is a task that requires the collection of additional data, he explained.

Dozens of lower-middle-income countries did not generally report causes of death, it said.

68% of excess mortality was concentrated in only ten countries in the world, generally countries with large populations and heavily hit by covid, according to the data released.

The largest actual number of Covid-related deaths was recorded in India (4.7 million), followed by Russia and Indonesia (over a million each) and the United States (932,000).

Following are Brazil (681,267), Mexico (626,217), Peru (289,668), Turkey (264,041), Egypt (251,102) and South Africa (238,671).

The figures also indicate that mortality was higher among men than among women, with the former representing 57% of deaths, compared to 43% of the latter.

"These data not only point to the impact of the pandemic, but also to the need for all countries to invest in stronger health systems that are capable of maintaining health services in times of crisis, and that have strong health information systems."WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"Measure excess mortality (with respect to normal times) is essential to understand the impact of the pandemic"said for his part the deputy director general of emergencies of the WHO, Socé Fall.

"It is necessary to understand the situation of the countries that did not have the capacity to report all the deaths, not even those caused directly because the victim had not undergone a test. In other countries, care for the chronically ill was interrupted because the system and staff were totally dedicated to the pandemic"he explained.

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