The official death toll from COVID-19 is about 5 million. According to mortality researchers, the real number is likely closer to 20 million. Reasons for the disparity:
- People die while infected without being tested, so not counted in official records as COVID19 deaths.
- Individuals die from other preventable causes because they were not treated in overloaded healthcare systems.
- Less developed nations may lack the means to gather accurate mortality statistics during a pandemic.
- A few regions choose not to collect accurate COVID19 statistics for political and economic reasons.
It is widely accepted that COVID-19 originated in China, either from animal sources or by a laboratory accident in the central city of Wuhan. Yet according to China’s government, the rate of pandemic deaths in that country is three per million population and only two people have died from the virus in the past year.
If the Asian nation’s statistics were true, Canada’s COVID-19 death rate would be more than 250 times higher and the USA’s rate almost 800 times higher. Peru’s official count would be 2,000 times higher than China’s. Of course, the autocratic country fits point 4 listed above.
Speaking to Germany’s DW News, University of Tübingen data scientist Dmitry Kobak said official COVID-19 deaths may be affected by inadequate testing capacities and imprecise reporting policies. He said excess mortality statistics are more reliable indicators of actual COVID-19 deaths.
In any given period of time, a certain number of people die due to many particular reasons, such as old age, illness, violence, traffic accidents and more. Researchers are able to predict the number of deaths from these causes over coming months or years, known as expected deaths, using the same information gathered from previous months and years. However, pandemics, conflicts, and natural and man-made disasters cause additional deaths above and beyond those expected, which are known as ‘excess deaths’.Study tracks global death toll of COVID-19 pandemic
In several of the countries worst affected by COVID-19 – namely Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Mexico – excess deaths were more than 50% above the expected annual mortality rate, or above 400 excess deaths per 100,000 people as in Peru, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Serbia. At the same time, in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, mortality during the pandemic was below the usual level, which the authors suggest is likely due to social distancing measures reducing the number of deaths caused by other infections besides COVID-19.
Furthermore, the researchers found that while many countries have been reporting their COVID-19 death rates accurately, some including Nicaragua, Belarus, Egypt and Uzbekistan have underreported these numbers by more than 10 times.