Covid-19 has killed 15 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). That’s almost three times the official global death toll of 5.9 million.
The WHO’s landmark report, which was released on Thursday, reveals that the virus – which has engulfed the world for the last two years – has taken a much deadlier toll than previously thought.
The number is made up of people who died directly as a result of the virus as well as people who died indirectly because of the pandemic. That includes those who were not able to receive healthcare for a different disease.
When broken down into individual countries, the findings make for shocking reading.
In India, over 4.7 million people were found to have died of Covid-19, the highest of any country in the world and over 10 times the country’s official death toll.
In Egypt, excess deaths were found to be 12 times greater than the country’s official Covid death toll, meaning it suffered much more from the virus than its data had suggested.
South Africa has some of the highest excess death figures in the world, with 200 excess deaths per 100,000.
But the most alarming aspect of the WHO’s 15 million figure is that the real number could be higher.
Researchers calculated the figure by adding up the number of excess deaths, country by country.
However, many countries, especially the world’s poorest nations, do not have reliable data on excess deaths.
Although the report says it adjusted for poor record-keeping, it admits that its data for many of these countries is speculative. There were no reliable statistics for 41 of Africa’s 54 countries, for example.
Tanzania stopped recording Covid-19 data in June 2020 because its then-president John Magufuli decided that it was spreading fear so he declared the nation “Covid-19 free”.
Statistician Professor Jon Wakefield, who worked on the report, told the BBC: “It is a disgrace that people can be born and die – and we have no record of their passing.
“So we really need to invest in countries’ registration systems so we can get accurate and timely data.”