Today marks the two year anniversary of the start of the pandemic. More than 18 million deaths have been linked to Covid-19 globally until the end of 2021 – almost three times the official death toll, a recent study has suggested.
The official statistics attribute 5.94 million deaths to Covid-19; but this is not the full picture, according to a study published in the leading journal The Lancet.
"Although reported Covid-19 deaths between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 totalled 5.94 million worldwide, we estimate that 18.2 million people died worldwide because of the pandemic (as measured by excess mortality) over that period," the report read.
"The full impact of the pandemic has been much greater than what is indicated by reported deaths due to Covid-19 alone."
Researchers say that the official death toll is much lower because many coronavirus infections remained undiagnosed. They also said that millions of people died because they were unable to access normal healthcare services during the pandemic.
The study collected all-cause mortality reports for 74 countries and territories and 266 subnational locations that reported either weekly or monthly deaths from all causes during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and for up to 11 years previously.
Based on the excess mortality, the number of deaths on top of the normal expected death rate, it calculated the total number of deaths.
4 million deaths in India
It found that, across the world, the all-age rate of excess mortality due to the coronavirus was 120 deaths per 100,000 people, while this exceeded 300 deaths per 100,000 people in 21 countries.
The highest number of cumulative excess deaths due to the pandemic on a national level was recorded in India, where the study found more than 4 million people died as a result of an infection. According to Our World in Data, this figure sits around 515,000.
- Covid-19 infections once again increasing in Belgium
- 'Entering spring with good feeling': Epidemic emergency ended in Belgium
India is followed by the United States (1.13 million), Russia (1.07 million) and Mexico (798,000). The excess mortality rate among these countries was highest in Russia (374,6 deaths per 100,000), according to the study. In Australia and New Zealand, on the other hand, fewer people died than usual.
The total number of deaths in Belgium since the start of the pandemic amounts to 30,380. The official death toll in the country also includes those who died of another cause but happened to be infected.