In May of this year, a team of researchers led by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs published the first results of mortality estimates associated with the new crown epidemic.
And recently, in a paper published in the journal Nature, scientists detailed these results.
According to their estimates, the new crown epidemic has caused an excess of about 14.83 million deaths worldwide.
This number is 2.74 times higher than the official number of deaths related to new crowns reported by countries during the same period.
Excess mortality is defined as “the difference between the total number of deaths in a crisis and the number of deaths that would be expected under normal circumstances”.
It includes not only the total number of deaths directly attributed to the virus, but also the total number of deaths caused by indirect effects such as the lack of basic health services.
Researchers estimate that the number of global deaths in 2020 and 2021 will be about 14.83 million higher than expected.
The excess mortality rate in 2020 is about 4.47 million, and in 2021 there are about 10.36 million.
This compares to a total of only about 5.42 million new crown-related deaths officially reported by countries in those two years.
About 4/5 of excess deaths occur in middle-income countries.
Some of the affected countries are located in Latin American states, such as Peru, where the mortality rate reached twice the expected level in both years.
The researchers noted that a number of factors can complicate estimates of outbreak-related deaths, such as the lack of available all-cause mortality data in many countries.
- 43% of the countries had no data available.
- 2% of countries have data for only some of the regions.
- 5% of the countries have annual data only.
- Monthly data are incomplete for 13% of countries.
In addition, differences in detection and diagnosis capabilities, and differences in the determination of the cause of death, among others, make it difficult to estimate the number of outbreak-related deaths.
Sometimes scientists have to make inferences based on available data, even if those inferences are not ideal.
The next step is to include age information in the data, with the risk of death from new crown infections increasing with age, the team said.
The model for estimating excess mortality should also be adjusted for differences in the age structure of the population across countries.