WHO says true Covid-19 death toll is around 15 million, more than double the official figure

The approximate number of 14.9 million deaths is much higher than the official figure of six million

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The true Covid-19 death toll is close to 15 million, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated.

That figure is more than double the official figure of six million.

In a new report, scientists commissioned by the WHO found the number of people died as a direct or indirect result of Covid-19 between January 2020 and December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million.

But that figure could be potentially as high as 16.6 million, the WHO added.

The true number of people who have died from Covid-19 is close to 15m, the WHO has estimated
The true number of people who have died from Covid-19 is close to 15m, the WHO has estimated
WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The numbers are far higher than the official tally because of deaths that were missed in countries without adequate reporting.

Even pre-pandemic, around six in 10 deaths around the world were not registered, WHO said.

The WHO report said that almost half of the deaths that until now had not been counted were in India.

The report suggests that 4.7 million people died there as a result of the pandemic, mainly during a huge surge in May and June 2021.

Speaking about the findings, WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “These sobering 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 that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.”

The figures are based on data reported by countries, as well as statistical modelling.

Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health said: “This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one.”